Pat Goldstraw describes her memories of village policeman Frank Haines.
Old age brings to many of us affectionate memories of our childhood days. For me they were blissful carefree times spent in our rural village with friends who are still friends today.
I have no objection to change - it is inevitable and we must accept such changes. But children today have lost a very precious gift - the gift of freedom.
We were free to wander, to cycle the lanes and fields, to play alongside the wandering Badsey Brook, to make dens in the orchards, to climb trees and even to be out in the dark after teatime on winter days.
On reflection, that we were given this freedom by our parents was due in no small measure to the fact that we had a wonderful village policeman, P C Frank Haines.
He was a tall sturdy man with kind twinkling eyes. Avuncular and yet firm, he knew us all by name. I'm sure he was a consummate actor - he could scold us children for riding bicycles without lights or scrumping fruit from the trees making us truly ashamed but never frightened. He knew everyone in the village - the venerable old ladies, the men who drank too much of our local cider and many others with problems. He was always helpful but never judgemental.
Having recently met his daughter Dawn after many years - her interesting life has taken her from her Badsey roots - to a career on the stage mostly in London shows and then with her husband to live in far flung places like Fiji and Sierra Leone - I asked her if I could write about her father. Fortunately she agreed.
She herself remembers when we suffered the intense cold of the 1947 winter months that he insisted on bringing his portable oil heater out to the bus stop opposite the police house. This was to comfort the shivering children waiting for the Evesham school bus. Others of my generation have similar memories - Michael Barnard remembers driving with his father in their small lorry past the police house only to be called to halt by P C Haines. Thinking they had broken the law, they duly obeyed, only to be asked if they would mind pulling closer to his garden so that he could stand on the lorry bed to reach the fruit on the high branches of his damson trees. With three helping the task was soon complete. Josephine Grove (nee Marshall), one of a large family growing up in the Mill House at Aldington - many of whom had glorious red hair, recalls that P C Haines visited one day to complain to their father that his children had been helping themselves to strawberries on their way to school. Her father was sure it wouldn't be any of his family only to be told firmly by the policeman it was undoubtedly true because all the culprits had red hair!
James Lees -Milne was a member of the family who lived in Wickhamford Manor for many years. He became well-known for writing a social diary, many books, and as a great supporter and founder-member of the National Trust. This quotation is from his diary for the years 1946 and 1947 -
“ ... Lord Ilchester joined us at dinner, telling us how corrupt the police are. He instanced the case several months ago when he was fined for driving through a military zone near Wilton. It goes against the grain for me to criticise the police, naively believing all policemen to be like our dear old Sergeant Haines at Wickhamford and Badsey who spanked the boys for stealing apples and succoured old women and lame cats; and after the Vicar, was the pillar of village society.”
- from Caves of Ice
PC Haines (his daughter insists he was never 'Sergeant Haines' as Lees-Milne describes him) was trusted by all stratas of our village society - I have an image in my mind of this wonderful man cycling the village every day, always there when we needed him and a great friend to us all. He was indeed a pillar of our society.
If you would like to add your own memories of PC Haines please go to our Visitors Book.