Cooksbridge, Offham & Hamsey

CH SERVICE: Sunday at St Peter’s Church, 10.15am Sunday School in the church hall, 10.30am Family Communion followed by coffee in the hall.

DON’T FORGET: Sunday is also the Open Garden at Offham House. For those who what to make a day out, what better than to visit St Peter’s Church, which finishes at noon, lunch at the Blacksmith’s Arms (opposite the church) and then a few steps on from the pub is Offham House with its beautiful garden, which is open from 1pm to 5pm. You can also enjoy tea and home-made cakes.

ANNUAL MEETING: East Chiltington PC will hold their Annual Parish Meeting on Wednesday at 7pm in Plumpton Village Hall, followed by the Annual Parish Council Meeting. The annual parish meeting is the one where residents and members of the public can attend to hear reports from their councillors regarding the year’s activities etc. Those attending are also welcome to stay for the annual parish council meeting.

HAMSEY PARISH COUNCIL: Annual Parish Meeting will take place on Thursday May 10 at 7pm in the village hall, Beechwood Lane, followed by the Annual Parish Council Meeting. The annual parish meeting is open to residents and members of the public who can listen to reports from their councillors about the year’s activities. Those attending are also welcome to stay and listen to the parish council AGM.

SHEEP WORRYING: It is good to see that the NFU have worked with the Kennel Club to produce gatepost signs designed to highlight the importance of dog ownership around livestock. There is a whole page in my British Farmer and Grower, headed Practical Action on Sheep Worrying. Rural insurer NFU Mutual put the industry costs of livestock worrying in 2017 at a record £1.6 million. With spring lambing at its busiest time and dog walkers venturing into the countryside as the weather improves, BF&G looks at practical steps farmers can take to mitigate problems, and reviews the NFU’s work on the issue. ‘These attacks have a massive impact on farmers, both financially and emotionally’, says the sector board chairman. ‘It’s vital we establish measures to keep both livestock and dogs safe. If the worst happens: Livestock worrying is an offence under Section 1 of the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953, and can result in a fine of up to £1,000. However, successful cases require evidence which can be difficult to gather.

MAKE A CASE: Photos, videos and witness statements will all be useful in any report to the police. A farmer’s priority is likely to be bringing an attack to an end, if so is there a family member, friend or employee who can collect evidence? Plan a course of action ahead of time. To bring prosecution, it is necessary to link the incident to an individual. Key evidence would show the animal and, if possible, its owner or the person in control of the dog at the time. Reporting makes it difficult to shine a light on the seriousness of livestock worrying. Farmers are urged to report any suspected or known incidents. Use 101 and obtain and make a note of a crime number each time. Keep as much information as possible, including crime numbers, in case there is any repeat problems. Keep as much information as possible, including crime numbers, in case there is a repeat problem. This wil help to build evidence if it involves the small animal(s). The NFU Love Your Countryside Campaign is working with the Kennel Club to distribute an updated livestock worrying poster for display in thousands of veterinary surgeries.

I am so glad that this has been mentioned as only this week I watched as three lots of dog walkers came through to go up the bridleway. In spite of having ewes and lambs on either side of the bridleway, all thee lots let their dogs off the lead. I have learnt over the years it is best to say nothing as all you get is two fingers stuck up at you.

SYMPATHETIC: I felt so very sorry for the lady who wrote in a national newspaper headed, Landlords v Tenants, who asks: Why is a state-sponsored blacklist of ‘rogue landlords allowed when it is illegal to run a blacklist of bad tenants’? She says, ‘We have yet again had to spend thousands to refurbish a flat left filthy and damaged by a tenant who also stole fixtures and fittings, but we can’t warn other landlords.’ Given the housing shortage, the authorities should be encouraging decent private landlords. Instead the system is biased against them. It takes months to evict a tenant and when they finally decide to go, leave a disgusting mess. Having now had first hand experience, I have every sympathy with the writer from Hastings.

LOCAL HISTORY: A friend was looking through the Courthouse visitor’s book recently and asked me about two letters that were tucked into the back of the book, which I had not noticed before. It is interesting as they are actually invitations to Derek’s mother, Audrey Clark, one dated November 24, 1943 and the other March 7, 1944. They are from the Office of The Sheriff of Sussex and requests the honour of the company of Mrs Clark at luncheon at the White hart Hotel, Lewes at 1.15pm. They are interesting because the RSVP goes to barleys, Offham and the Sheriff of Lewes was Mr Edwin Fisher who built Barleys, which as most people know is Mount Harry. Edwin Fisher was the chairman of Barclays Bank in Lewes and Derek and his sister used to refer to him as Uncle Tom as they used to ride their ponies up through the wood to meet with his daughter Anne, who became Mrs John Metcalfe and lived in Hamsey. She and her brother Jeremy used to ride out with Derek and his sister, Betty, and all belonged to the Pony Club and used to meet here at Courthouse. There are lots of photographs in the old albums.

Another little bit of local history is a small publication of This England, which Derek’s father gave me years ago. It is connected to the Shiffner family from Coombe Place. Reprinted in 1939 it has the Hunting Song by Sir Walter Scott and the hunting drawings are by Dorothy Shiffner. Some years ago her niece, who lived in London and used to come to Hamsey Evensong in the summer,, got in touch with me as someone had told her that I had the book and she asked if I could take it to church for her to see. As it only has 12 pages I was able to copy it for her.

SPRING: Looking out of the window whilst writing this column, I will finish by saying the flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, the bees have started buzzing and at last I can say that spring, or should I say summer, has actually arrived.