Councillor reunited with an old comrade

Among those who were lucky enough to collect their own walking sticks from Fernhurst villager Philippa Salvin at the end of the war was James Bicknell, who went on to be a West Sussex councillor and a member of the Midhurst Rural District Council.

James joined the London Field Ambulance with his great friend, WP Stephens.

They served in the Middle East throughout the war and both lived to tell the tale.

But it wasn’t until Mr Stephens’ grandson, Barry Woodward, visited Fernhurst to research him that their stories unfurled.

And two years ago Mr Woodward and Mr Bicknell’s grand-daughter Cynthia Clue, who lives in South Harting, met for the first time, to exchange their stories.

James Bicknell was the son of Yorke and Ellen Marie Bicknell.

Yorke, like his own father Isaac, had been born in Fernhurst. But he moved to London to work and it was there that James was born in 1889.

Yorke brought the family back to Fernhurst when James was nine when he took over the running of the Red Lion pub.

James spent a happy few years in Fernhurst with his sisters Ada and Mabel before returning to London as a bank clerk.

He served in the middle east with the Royal Army Medical Corps and survived the war to become a bank manager in London.

For many years he had a holiday cottage in Park Lane, Fernhurst and often returned with his wife Annie Amelia to visit his step-mother who continued to run the Red Lion.

The couple built a permanent home in Park Lane and returned to the village in 1949.

Mr Bicknell went on to become a West Sussex county councillor in 1949, conducting his election campaign from his daughter’s (Peggy) home at the Burrows and Paine garage in the centre of the village, now the TVR garage, while he waited for his new home to be completed.

Peggy had married Gordon George Burrows in July, 1942.