On this particular Sunday afternoon some friends had told me the news that Canvey Island was flooded and schools were being opened as rest centres. I went with Dora Harrison to find out what was happening as the headmaster’s wife, Mrs Wood was concerned as her husband had been contacted very early Sunday morning to open the school. She had not heard from him since then.
We came back from Hadleigh by bus but they were only going as far as the top of Bread and Cheese Hill. We made our way to the school and found that it had become a reception centre for flood casualties. The WVS were cooking food so we stayed to help. The school became a centre for help, we dried the people out that had been evacuated from Canvey Island and King John School received them from us. We even gave away PE kit for people to wear.
The WVS cooked breakfast on Monday morning so the men could go to work. The Authorities were afraid that the bridge over Benfleet Creek would collapse as the Army lorries had been using it. The railway line at Benfleet was flooded towards Leigh. We slept on the school dining room tables and we did not get back home until the Wednesday.
Dr Tyndall was a good friend of the school and he spoke on the radio explaining to people what they could do to help. People wanted to assist the displaced persons from Canvey, especially in regard a little baby that was saved called Linda Foster. I helped sort out the mail that had been sent. There were clothes, letters with money in, sweets and chocolate. There were enough sweets to fill a classroom. It was all ‘quite amazing – poor people sent postal orders* especially for Linda Foster.’
The Headmasters of Benfleet School, Mr. F. G. Wood and Mr Bert Evans of King John School both received MBEs along with Mr John Denton the headmaster of Hadleigh School who received an OBE for their efforts in relation to the Canvey Floods. The Queen Mother also visited the school
*A safe way to send money through the post, bought from the Post Office in various denominations plus a fee for their use.