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War children back together

Former evacuees Charles Evans and Bill Dodkins with villagers Barbara Neville, Eileen Lewis and Jean Puddle

Former evacuees Charles Evans and Bill Dodkins with villagers Barbara Neville, Eileen Lewis and Jean Puddle

Two former evacuees returned to Hornton to meet the people they spent the war years with at a special village reunion.

Former journalist and village resident Chris Woodcock organised the nostalgic reunion at Hornton Pavillion to bring former evacuees Bill Dodkins, 82, and Charles Evans, 83, back to the village to meet old friends Barbara Neville, Eileen Lewis and Jean Puddle.

Mr Evans was evacuated to the village from London in 1940, aged ten, and lived with the Price family on Millers Lane, next to the Old Red Lion pub, but has since returned to the city.

Bill Dodkins also came to the village in 1940, aged nine, and lived with the Jarvis family before returning to London after the war.

Mr Evans fondly remembers the village which became his home when he was evacuated from London’s east end where he lived in poverty in a family of nine.

He recalls: “At first I would sleep walk and talk about the east end. A lot of children were terribly upset by being away from home but it didn’t bother me. When you are one of nine from a poor family you settle anywhere.” Mr Evans remembers fighting with other evacuees from London and working on a farm at weekends and holidays.

Now a Methodist church organist, he found his love of music in the village where he formed a strong friendship with the church organist. Mr Evans has frequently returned to the village over the years.

After the reunion he said: “My time in Hornton has really shaped the rest of my life. Hornton is the love of my life.”

Bill Dodkins also enjoyed his time in Hornton. So much so in fact, that when the time came for him to return to London in 1945 he ran away and hid under a bush for an entire night!

 

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