WINTER SOLSTICE WALK

The walking group had a challenging outing on 21 December – the winter solstice and the shortest day of the year.  Eight members set out from Godstone Green at 11 a.m. and were provided with illuminating details of the key sights en route by navigator Dave Bannister  In Godstone’s Church Town we saw the church restored by Victorian architect Sir George Gilbert Scott, together with the beautiful almshouses and chapel  built to his design next door.

 

Winter walk midway between Godstone and Bletchingley

 

A short distance further on we paused to inspect the gunpowder mill once owned by George Evelyn and his sons John and Richard which operated until 1636. George was grand-father of the noted diarist John Evelyn. We also passed several of the millponds which had been developed in the late sixteenth century to support gunpowder production, so critical then to England's security.

We moved on to the Greensand ridge and followed the Greensand Way, savouring the wintry views as rain swept in  ahead of the previous day’s forecasts.  We were within twenty minutes of reaching Bletchingley for our scheduled lunch-time stop when Martin Perkins slipped and fell on the final downward grassy slope.

 

After Martin's fall, waiting for the paramedics

Martin was clearly in pain and his left ankle was twisted at a distressing angle.  We called 999 for assistance and the first paramedics to arrive diagnosed a fractured ankle.

 

First paramedics on the scene treat Martin

 

Paramedics carry Martin down the slope

A succession of further paramedics arrived and Martin was carried and then slid down the hill on a mountain-rescue stretcher.  He was transferred to an all-terrain vehicle named Polaris and eventually a mainstream ambulance which took him to East Surrey hospital.  He remained in remarkable spirits throughout this ordeal.

Rescuers and Martin reach all-terrain Polaris

The rest of the group eventually reached Bletchingley and then continued by car to South Godstone for a meal.  Banners visited Martin in hospital that evening and reported that he had sustained two "shear" fractures to his ankle. 

Martin was still in good spirits and said that his greatest disappointment was that did not get to ride in a helicopter. Martin had originally expected to be home by Christmas but the latest news is that his operation has been postponed to 27 December and he hopes to be home 1-2 days after that.  He will have his ankle in plaster for two weeks, followed by four weeks wearing a support boot.  The choir wishes him well for the speediest recovery.

Ambulance departs for East Surrey Hospital

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