Village Features: Tillington

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TILLINGTON may be a tiny hamlet nestling on the hill of the busy A272, but it has an incredible sense of solidarity.

So dedicated are residents to helping one another, they formed a voluntary support group underpinning the sense of community in the area.

Gerald Gresham Cooke leads the way up a newly established footpath.Picture by Kate Shemilt.C131144-1

Gerald Gresham Cooke leads the way up a newly established footpath.Picture by Kate Shemilt.C131144-1

Tillington Local Care (TLC), established in 2009, was a winner of the Observer Community Awards 2012, in the best local voluntary/charity organisation category.

It is dedicated to helping people from Tillington, Upperton and River Common, with 33 voluntary drivers taking turns to be ‘on-call’, answering telephone calls from those needing a lift, then emailing around to see who is free to help the passenger in need.

No-one has been let down yet.

The charity also runs a hotline service, gives advice on pensions and carers’ attendance allowance, and carries out research and signposts people to the relevant professionals.

Fundraisers for TICH

Fundraisers for TICH

People in Tillington don’t help one another because they have to, they do it because they want to.

One of the driving forces behind many events is Gerald Gresham Cooke, the very epitome of community spirit.

Described by him as ‘one of the proudest moments of my life’, hundreds of people turned up to see their favourite neighbour when he was deservedly the centre of attention, chosen to carry the Olympic torch through the village.

There are also beautiful landmarks Tillington has to showcase, including the ancient All Hallows Church and the charming Horse Guards Inn.

Village life tends to centre around three notable buildings – the pub, the church, and the village hall, all of which have a story of their own to tell.

Fifteen per cent of the area’s population attend the church every Sunday.

In order to carry out essential repair work on the church, the community organised 13 fundraising events throughout the summer.

Known as ‘TICH’, the series of events has ranged in diversity from live concerts to children’s parties.

Ian Fergusson, or ‘Fergie’, is chairman of the organising committee.

When people come up with an idea, he encourages them and helps make that idea become a reality.

The events will culminate on St Andrew’s Day in honour of the Scottish emblem atop the church.

The Horse Guards Inn was chosen as the pick of Sussex in the Good Pub Guide County Dining Pubs of the Year 2013.

Landlord and landlady Sam Beard and Misha Hofirkova have injected their own stamp with vintage accessories and an idyllic beer garden.

At 350 years old, it was originally known as the Old Star, but its name changed in 1840 when members of the household cavalry would leave their horses on the grounds of the Petworth Estate to visit the inn.

Various clubs flourish in the village hall, which was refurbished nine years ago.

These include the men’s and ladies’ breakfasts, which have guest speakers booked until January 2015.

Guest speakers have included Lord Egremont. “Somewhat unsurprisingly, a lot of people turned up to that breakfast,” said Gerald.

Speakers are invited along to talk about their professions or hobbies.

“The number of different hobbies people have around here is just extraordinary, and absolutely fascinating,” says Gerald.

A notable Tillington celebrity was the late Jack Holloway, the Burma star ex-soldier who started ‘Jack’s Walk’ and raised more than £30,000 for the Royal British Legion poppy appeal.

The church was packed for a service of thanksgiving and the Royal British Legion standard was on parade following his death at the age of 91 in 2011.

Giving the address at a service of thanksgiving, chairman of Petworth Society Peter Jerrome told the congregation: “Jack was Tillington through and through.”

Another pivotal aspect of life here is the Tillington Charitable Trust, which was set up 301 years ago with £50 left by a resident for those in the community.

Today’s villagers have kept the tradition alive, using the trust to fund various projects.

See this week’s Midhurst and Petworth Observer (October 17) for the feature and all our pictures.