Why I love Stoke Lodge...

Telling your stories

This page is for the present-day stories of Stoke Lodge. Young or old, able or not so able, rich or poor, Stoke Lodge is equally important to us all and if you would like to share your story, please do email it to welovestokelodge@gmail.com.

Sue's story

Walking for a reason

I live opposite the children's play park at Stoke Lodge. I have a beautiful, free, unfettered view of the Lucombe Oak, Bristol Tree of the Year 2018 and the sweeping vista of the lower end of Stoke Lodge recreational grounds. Over the last three years and during the unrelenting Cotham march towards a security fence, I have had an ongoing relationship with incurable cancer. Unfortunately my situation has worsened dramatically in the last two months and almost mimicking the threat of the looming fence, my situation is now terminal.


Throughout my journey, I have judged the peaks and troughs of my health on how well I can walk Stoke Lodge. Top quarter, a start. The top half of the fields, getting there. From the bottom of the field to the top, getting stronger. All around the Lodge, beating it. Twice round the Lodge - I made it, I'm fit! On very bad days, just to the Oak and back to stretch my legs. I like to walk my dogs, Archie the blue-grey whippet and Rosie a chocolate labrador cross Husky, the bossy one! You may have seen me there, I'm the mad woman in a bright yellow coat and walking with a stick. Because of my health I haven't been able to be as physically active in support of We Love Stoke Lodge as I would have liked to be. I am now unable to walk more than a few paces now and so haven't been able to go to the Lodge for a couple of months. My husband still walks our dogs most mid-mornings though.


I wanted to say something about the people of BS9 because I think we have been unfairly portrayed. I am one of four children, born in 1962. I am my parents' third child. My father was a farm labourer when I was born. He worked for a farm just east of Bath, near Rode, Wiltshire. When I was six months old, my Dad lost his job and we were made homeless. The house was an agricultural cottage and went with the job. My parents had three children under five and a dog, a whippet Judy, and we had no home. The local Bath paper ran an item on us and we were temporarily rehomed in a council house in a village south of Bath with another destitute family.


I was state educated at the local Church of England Primary School, I then went to the local State Comprehensive in Bath, Ralph Allen, where I took my CSEs and O levels. I was hungry for an education but at the time Ralph Allen had no sixth form, so towards the end of the 1970s I went to another State Comprehensive near my village, one of only a handful of girls allowed to attend the then boys' school, Culverhay. I took my A levels, then spent a year at the City of Bath Technical College completing a secretarial course. In 1981, I went to University - the first person, not just in my immediate family but my entire extended family, ever to go to University.


My husband is also state educated. He attended state grammars in Yorkshire and Surrey. He went off to Bristol Uni in the early 80s. He is now an NHS Consultant Anaesthetist at the BRI. We bought this house in 2008 and moved in in 2009 from Brislington, BS4, a fantastic traditional community. We have two daughters, both went to State Infant and Junior schools in St. Anne's, BS4. I was a school governor at St Anne's Junior school for 6 years, and Chair of Governors for 3 years, in which time the school was taken out of special measures and noted as Good by Ofsted. We applied to Cotham Grammar for both our girls for senior school, but were declined, out of catchment.


I had attended classes at Stoke Lodge Adult education and had fallen for the Lodge, the community, the lebanese cedar and I knew that as long as my husband had to be within 10 minutes of the BRI, it would be the nearest I ever made it to living in my beloved countryside again.


I am asking anyone in our community or anyone who cares, to think twice in the run up to Christmas. Before you head off to Cribbs Causeway for yet another stocking filler, a new phone because you've had that one for two years, that gorgeous dog bed you fell in love with, you know the dog would rather sleep on the floor, another bottle of wine for Christmas Eve...give the money to We Love Stoke Lodge for a judicial review - it may be our last chance.


I am sick of the people of BS9 being portrayed as claret swigging toffs using our higher education and wealth to stamp on the rights of the impoverished children of Cotham Academy. I am hoping that this latest dive in my health is just a temporary blip and you will see me in 2019 walking a free unfenced Lodge with my dogs, Archie the blue-grey whippet and Rosie the Chocolate Labrador cross Husky. I am the mad woman in bright yellow with a stick, come say hi - I love to chat and tell stories. I have never been one for putting up fences. I wish you all a Happy Fence Free Christmas And a Happy Fight Free, Fence Free 2019. I would like to thank We Love Stoke Lodge for their amazing and uplifting campaign. Physically I can’t offer much but please do use my voice wherever you can. Thank you, bless you and Good Night.

image3