Potted history of the Lower Beeding Sports Association and the Lower Beeding Association (Charity No. 267433)

In the 1950’s and 60’s the Lower Beeding Sports Association (LBSA) which included the football, cricket and stoolball teams, had no fixed ground and had been playing on land at Leonardslee, South Lodge, Newells, Swallowfield, among others. In the early 1960s the opportunity arose to purchase a permanent ground (where the Sportsfield and Hall is now) from Mrs Barden who had a large poultry farm at Leechpond Farm. The LBSA had to raise funds somewhere in the region of £3,500 for the field. ComptonsTennis Club purchased part of the field and the LBSA bought the remaining field as far as the "Orchard" (orchard owned by Miss Godman) in 1964/65.

A Sports Committee was formed with John Christian as Chairman, Mrs Vi Wadie secretary and a great deal of help from the Carters, Cubitts, Eggletons, Frys, Rev Gray, Hicks, Holdens, Humphreys, Kirkhams, Puseys and many others. A handwritten letter was sent to everyone in the village outlining the plans. Once the land had been purchased then the real work began and the cricketers, footballers and others interested in sports for the village began clearing the field, dynamiting the trees, rabbit catching (rabbits still a problem!), and starting to drain and prepare the sports field @ a cost of approx £2,500. A full photographic record of this hard work is available and many photos are at the Village Hall. The very first fund raising event was the collection throughout the village of waste paper which was stored at Dockers Farm and the two lorry loads of paper collected raised £200. Fund raising events at the site were a bonfire night and a pony Gymkhana organised by Bernard Bradley (Clerk of Works at Gatwick). One further bonfire night was held at Richard Hicks’ Cisswood Farm. The Gymkhanas continued firstly at the Hicks’, John Christian’s Winterpick Farm then latterly at Jane Hicks’ Holme Farm. The 200 Club, at £12 a year, was started by Brian Howard and monthly draws were held at "dances" at the Mannings Heath Village Hall with Austin Mini cars (at six monthly intervals – 2 cars @ £500 each!), cameras, tvs, etc as prizes (later it was agreed to have money prizes). The draws were held monthly and the Club is still running today (now only £20 a year!). With all the hard work raising funds the LBSA achieved an incredible £13,000 mainly from the generosity of the villagers but also a small grant from Playing Fields Association.

Building of the Pavilion

Once the field was ready the LBSA commenced the building of the Pavilion in 1965. The cost for the preparation of the field and cricket pitch was in the region of £2,500. Miss Barbara Otter generously donated a verandah for the Pavilion (unfortunately no longer there partly lost through battling winds and rain). The Pavilion was completed in 1968(?) and the village sports teams now had their own superb ground – real reward for the effort of securing, preparing, draining the land and building the Pavilion. This achievement was due to the generosity and public spirit of the local people interested in acquiring a good sports facility for the village.

The Crabtree Village Hall - During the intervening years the village hall in the hamlet at the southern end of the village, with its library, billiard table, stage and caretaker was no longer a viable proposition and extensive negotiations were made with the LBSA to build a Village Hall attached to the Pavilion. There were a number of obstacles to be overcome mainly the possible conflicts in hiring the hall when sports events were being played on the field. However, assurance was given that the LBSA had priority when bookings were being considered so that cricket/football/stoolball and other sports matches wouldn’t clash with hall hirings.

New Village Hall - After being without a village hall for nearly ten years a building fund was launched in May 1972 and a number of fund raising events were held, usually at the Mannings Heath or Cowfold Village Halls. Once again Gymkhanas were held at Church Farm, Cisswood and Holme Farm. It was agreed to continue with the 200 Club (now the 250 Club). Four of the Hall negotiators Brian Lamplough, Bernard Bradley, John Holden and Jim Humphrey were elected Trustees of the Lower Beeding Association, the Chairman was John Christian and the Treasurer Mike Burgess. The LBA was registered as a non-profit charity No. 267433 in 1975. The object of the Charity being (and of course still is)...

"To provide a village hall for the use of the inhabitants of the Parish of Lower Beeding in the County of Sussex without distinction of political, religious or other opinions, including use for meetings, lectures and classes, and for other forms of recreation and leisure time occupation, with the object of improving the conditions of life for the said inhabitants"

In December 1976 the West Sussex County Times sent a reporter and a photographer to write a news piece on the laying of the footings for the new Lower Beeding Village Hall. The cost of the building was to be £10,000. A further £900 had to be found for furniture, fittings & fixtures and car park tarmacing. The tables and chairs were anonymously donated and the WI generously donated and made the curtains. On the 15th October 1977 Lady Loder ceremoniously cut the ribbon on the official opening of the Village Hall. She was presented with a bouquet by Miss Lower Beeding (Jackie Burgess), after which an "Autumn sale" was held.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s the cricket, football and Tug-of War teams were all very active with sponsored walks, mini minor football tournaments, discos and so on. In 1978 a Youth Club was set up by Ken Laidler and Ian & Ann Kirkham and they arranged various outings, games, table tennis, inter-club competitions etc. Ken and Ian handed the club over in April 1985 to Adrian Barraclough and Jeannie Lillywhite and they added occasional trips to Streatham Ice Rink.

The Summer Fete has been run annually since the mid 1960s and in 1966 a Miss Lower Beeding competition was held - the first being Shelagh Carter (1966) and Lorna Dudzik (1967). The competition was launched again in 1977 with the winner Jackie Burgess who, in 1978 handed over Susan Christian who then handed over to Heather Boniface in 1979.

The Village Fete is the main LBA fund raising event of the year when all groups both affiliated and non-affiliated join in helping raise much needed funds for your village hall which is largely supported by the generosity of the villagers without which there would be no village hall.

Club Bar was the major fund raising event in June 1985. At a well attended Village Public Meeting there was an overwhelming wish and the go ahead given for a Club Bar subject to Planning Permission, which was granted. Funds required for this would be £20,000 and in 1985 an ambitious car lottery, with a VW GTi, was promoted by Tom Tyler, Charlie Hempstead and Ken Laidler with a lot of hard selling to the villagers! There were three draws during the year – the first drawn in July was for a "Long weekend for two in Jersey" donated by Chelsea Hotel in Jersey and flights by British Airways, plus other prizes of video cameras, radios and "dinners for two". The Car was won at a disco held at the Hall in April 1986 - the lucky winner, Daphne Poupart, was not at the draw, but she was rung up at about 11 p.m., and couldn’t believe her luck, was speechless, absolutely thrilled and couldn’t wait for her husband to bring her over – which he did. However, she had to wait a couple of days before she could take her new car which was "bought" with her £60 ticket! For a number of years Daphne brought the "festooned" car to the Village Fete for "Guess the Mileage" for which she always donated a generous prize to the winner.

Various activities and classes - We once had a very active Lower Beeding Drama Club - are there any budding actors reading this? In the early 1980s the LBA staged a New Year’s Eve Tramps Ball and being popular, was followed for several years with New Years Eve fancy dress competitions. All the family came along to these events with their bottles and nibbles. Activities organised over the years by both affiliated and non-affiliated groups from the 1980s have offered First Aid, ballroom dancing evenings, self-defence, keep-fit (for 15 years), youth club, dog training, art, flower arranging classes. Successful LBA fun evenings have been the outside Lamb Roasts, BBQs, Barn Dances, Discos and a Caribbean night. Inside events include, among others, a Fashion Show, Whist Drives, Cheese and Wine evenings, Horse Racing, Auction of Promises, Mini Auctions and Jumble Sales. Also we have staged a couple of fun runs, tug-of-war competitions, mini minor football tournaments and car boot sales in conjunction with the fete.

We now have an active Cricket Club (contact Eddie on 01403 891185); The Lower Beeding Lions team (junior football) (contact Ian Jewell 01403 864188); and the Lower Beeding Lemurs (the stoolball team) (contact: Kevin on 01403 892591 or Mary 891767). General enquiries (contact Jean on 01403 891523)

Updated May 2013