Sylvia Harris (2021) – Coddenham Village Poet
I first met Sylvia in 1972 when I moved to Shrubland Park. Her husband, John, was Head Masseur at the Clinic. She was the first person to welcome me there and we spent some happy times together. Among other things, she taught me how to make home-made wine. However, she did warn me of the dangers of making elderflower champagne when she blew up her pantry! She loved organising a party, the most memorable one was a Harvest Festival for all the estate workers. At that time she was secretary of the Coddenham WI and for many years successfully ran the Coddenham Over 60’s Club. After I had my second daughter, I asked her how on earth did she manage with four children. I was told, “They don’t all come at once, Sally”. She seemed to take everything in her stride.
Always caring for others, Sylvia was, for many years, leader of the Phab Club for disabled children and young adults in Ipswich, receiving a special trophy for long and outstanding service on retirement. One memorable time was when she organised a coach trip to Hyde Park in London to raise funds for the club. The aim was for us able bodied volunteers to complete 10 laps of the ‘Serpentine’ pushing a wheelchair. At the same time, very close by, the Iranian Embassy was under siege and the SAS were dramatically storming the building.
Sylvia had many interests, particularly art and crafts, and was a fountain of local knowledge. She was also a valued committee member of the History Club and took over the reins as Chairman in 2010, retiring only within the last year. She was a prolific poetess and has left us with some wonderful memories of Coddenham past in prose. We will miss her dearly.
Suffolk Summer Days
Them good old boys were here tonight
A dancing in the firelight
I see them all there in the flame
A taken me down memri lane
The cricket games! The runs we’d make
And how we’d bowl and wickets take
I see it all like yesterday
Those far off Suffolk summer days
I see mighty punches ploughing there
And fleet hunters galloping where
A fox had been and left its trail
Perhaps they’ll catch him (more like they’ll fail)
But oh those days were free as air
For I was young, without a care
They was different times and different ways
In those far off Suffolk summer days
Sylvia Harris 2002
From “Has the Village Changed”, a book of poetry by village people
produced by Ann Gudgin and Sylvia Harris in 2005