Few, if any, in Normandy would not have been touched by her gentleness and kindness during her active adult life in the affairs of the village, be it in the Glaziers Lane sub-post office, the Congregational Chapel or Sunday School. Equally, she will be remembered for her notable and adult life companion, Robert Vernon Hammond ("Bob"). They cycled together around the village, sharing their respective responsibilities in charitable and voluntary activities.
Dorothy was born in 1925 to farming folk near Petersfield, but in 1929 her father moved with his small family to Fairview Farm Normandy to take up the position of "Cowman" and was allotted one half of a nearby tied cottage. Dorothy and her parents later moved to the nearby cottage "Sunbeam", Guildford Road on the corner of Wells Lane.
It was fairly common in the early 1930s for water to be drawn from wells but Dorothy, as a young child, was severely ill and the Doctor advised that drinking water be obtained from the farm. Later water was extended to the nearby cow sheds but not to the cottage. However, the distance father had to carry the water was halved! Of interest - although many properties (but not all), had mains water connected at that time, main-drainage to the village was not available until 1965.
As was then normal, Dorothy started school at 5 years of age and left in 1939 when she was 14 years of age. Initially, she had an offer of a job at a shop in Guildford but her parents didn't like the idea of her going all that way every day. They were relieved, therefore, when Mr and Mrs Mills offered her a job at their Glaziers Lane Sub Post Office.
During her time at the Normandy Sub Post Office it was several times the target for armed robbers and Dorothy won two bravery awards in the 1980s for her courage, one of which involved grappling with a raider, armed with a sawn-off shotgun! The last attack on the post office was featured on the BBC's "Crimewatch" TV programme; Hunts Hill Road was closed to enable a reconstruction of the event.
Normandy Congregational Chapel at Willey Green
During the 1939 - 1945 war years, Dorothy took over the playing of the organ at the Congregational Chapel, Willey Green, from William Fooks, who at that time was obliged to enlist, relinquishing her duties to him on his return from the Army. William provided organ music for services until his death in 1974 when, once again, Dorothy took over that duty for the congregation, in addition to that of Sunday School Teacher in the 1960s.
In 1975 the Chapel celebrated its150th anniversary, following which, it was obvious that the seating capacity for 60 was inadequate to accommodate those wishing to attend the normal Sunday Service. Since the site was much too small for further development an opportunity to acquire and re-develop the defunct Telephone Exchange, Glaziers Lane and associated land came their way, and so, in 1985 the Congregation re-locateded to its new premises with the title - The Emmanuel United Reformed Church since the Congregationalists had amalgamated with the Presbyterians to form "The United Reformed Church" - normally abreviated to URC.
Over a lifetime of service to the Sub Post Office in Glaziers Lane, Dorothy acquired a wonderful knowledge of most people, house names and the "little known out of the way properties" in and around the village.
During the 1990's and onward, Dorothy willingly offered her 'organ playing' services to help out at Worplesdon United Reformed Church when the 'regulars' could not play. Being Dorothy, she soon made more friends and eventually transferred her membership from Normandy U.R.C. where after her death a Thanksgiving Service and reception for her life was held, and later a Bible Reading board was placed in Worplesdon church in Dorothy's memory by a life-long friend, Winifred Greenwood.
In 1999 Dorothy moved from "Sunbeam" to a nearby bungalow "Fleetwood", also on the Guildford Road. In her last few years, Dorothy had to give up her bicycle riding but enjoyed the company of a member of the Worplesdon church for occasional trips to surgery and hospital and there were numerous invitations to and fro for lunch and tea on a Sunday. Dorothy became a formidable Scrabble player, even with her poor eyesight, and enjoyed daily crossword puzzles. She also took a great interest in her garden, helping her friends plant bulbs and flowers in pots on her patio to provide a riot of colour. She was a very independent lady, but a truly good friend to many.
Dorothy enjoyed life at "Fleetwood" and had many visitors who enjoyed her homely hospitality. She died in 2010 after a short illness.
P T Blakiston