Very sadly, this very special lady passed away peacefully on 16th January.
She had been poorly for a while but was cared for by her family in Coddenham until the end.
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
A fount of knowledge with deep feeling regarding Coddenham and Shrubland. She had a wonderful scrapbook of local and further-afield history. I remember very well her distress in recounting the story of how the wisteria at Shrubland was destroyed. The gardener had pointed out its historical and cultural value but the owner said if it wasn’t cut down he would do it himself. The gardener refused and resigned on the spot but that didn’t stop the wanton damage that ensued. Sylvia cared! A pity English Heritage did not have the means to follow her example.
Thanks sally you were always special to mum
I remember Sylvia and her children who inspired me during my time of helping with the “Phab Club”when I was a young teenager. I came away thinking I didn’t have what it takes to look after disabled children in comparison to their amazing patience, aptitude and love. Years later I am even more in awe of them as I have my own child with disabilities . I like to think they’ve helped me on my journey, I’m learning to find what it takes and get on with it!
So sorry to hear the news about Sylvia. Our thoughts are with all her family.
Thank you Sally, for sharing these lovely memories of mum. We miss her dearly.
So kind Sally x
RIP lovely lady. You were always so helpful giving me advice on my flower arrangements in church. Fond memories.
And trustee in waiting (with her grandson) for the very brief first incarnation of the Coddenham Centre Charity Board more than ten years ago..
A lovely lady.