May I, through your paper, express my heartfelt thanks to the people of Storrington.
I live in Spain and wanted to visit places in the UK where past members of my family lived and worked over the past 400 years or so.
One of them was a Walter Floate who was born in Storrington in 1813, his trade being that of a butcher with a shop at 115 East Street where he lived till his death in 1883.
I arrived in early October 2015 and parked my car in one of the local car parks. Looking for a parking fee machine I was assisted by a charming young lady who took me to a shop to buy a permit, I then walked into town looking for East Street, asked a few people who didn’t know so the best place to ask is the local Post Office only to find out that it was closed for refurbishing.
Other shoppers advised me to ask in local shops, I called into Bunces Home Hardware shop and there I meet two wonderful young ladies, Angela and Sam, who went out of their way to help me, looking on the internet for a road which had long been removed from the map.
They offered me, not just help, but after finding out that I had no place to stay that night ( hotels very expensive) a seat at the family table that night, an amazing gesture to a stranger, such a rare things these days.
The following day they pointed me towards St Mary’s Church where I later met the Rev Kathryn Windslow and the assistant curate Christine Spencer who both went through church records in an effort to help me with my search, they so much wanted to help and were amazing.
I called into the local museum and met two wonderful ladies who just could not do enough, they looked up books, photos and said that if I left contact details, then someone would contact me in time. They then directed me to a cottage where lived a retired local historian by the name of Joan Ham.
What a charming lady, she invited me into her house and told me a little about my ancestor, she said that she would do more for me in the New Year. Her husband, Ron, then joined us and we had a good old chat.
Since my return to Spain I have heard from Julia Westgate from the museum, who has been working so hard in collecting information on my family, she has been so helpful and I could not have collected such important details without her, thank you Julia. When a stranger visits a new place, he is never sure what type of reception he is likely to find. May I record with you Sir that the people I met in Storrington were the best you could find anywhere, friendly, charming, helpful, understanding and a joy to have known. I will never forget them, never.
Denia, Alicante, Spain
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