Church of England Diocese of Norwich West Somerton

Hilda Rump - Service Beyond Self

Hilda Rump Service beyond Self

The inscription on the obverse side of The Women’s Voluntary Service long-service medal awarded to Hilda Rump reads Service beyond Self and these words aptly describe Hilda Rump’s contribution to her local community. Hilda was born in Ormesby in November 1907, the youngest of 9 children, to parents Henry and Emma Dyble. After leaving school, aged 14, Hilda worked “in service” for Mr & Mrs Rolfe at Manor Farm. She married Alfie Rump, a farm labourer, at Ormesby on 26th December 1930. The newly married couple lived at Ormesby with Hilda’s mother for 2 years during which time daughters Doreen and Barbara were born. In 1933 the family moved to a cottage at the bottom of Old Cart Lane in East Somerton.

In 1934 the family moved to Grange Cottage in West Somerton when Alfie secured a job as gardener with the solicitor Major T P Wiltshire at The Grange. In return for rent-free accommodation Hilda provided housekeeping services to The Grange. Hilda and Alfie were to remain happily together at Grange Cottage for almost 60 years – only being apart during World War II when Alfie served in the Royal Engineers at Arnhem during Operation Market Garden, in North Africa, Italy and the Dalmation Islands. At the end of the war he was in Hamburg prior to being demobilised and returning to West Somerton.

Doreen remembers being in the playground at Somerton School when her Dad came home on embarkation leave and Mrs Reynolds allowed her out to greet him. She poignantly recalls the day her Dad went away – “Mum was so upset she took Barbara and I to Yarmouth but everywhere was closed and we spent a miserable 2 hours wandering around the town before coming back to Grange Cottage.” Hilda became a member of the Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS) and helped with evacuees and distributed the infamous Woolton pies at the Village Hall. When peace returned Hilda and Alfie settled back into life together at Grange Cottage with their daughters. Both daughters were married in the 1950s and left Grange Cottage to set up their own homes. In June 1977 Hilda was awarded a WVS long-service medal by Queen Elizabeth II.

Hilda and Alfie were regular churchgoers and she served St Mary’s in many capacities, including 30 years as Churchwarden and Secretary of the Parochial Church Council. Her other duties included cleaning the church, arranging flowers being custodian of the Church fabric and helping Alfie with the upkeep of the churchyard.

She also served on the Village Hall Committee as Treasurer and Secretary at various times. She organised the Over Sixties Club and the many coach trips to local places of interest during the summer months. She also organised the fortnightly bingo sessions which were attended by Somerton folk and those from surrounding villages. Hilda was a familiar figure in the village pushing her bike or wheelbarrow laden with flowers or produce to St Mary’s or the Village Hall for festivals and functions.

For many years she was the village correspondent for the Great Yarmouth Mercury and also contributed items for the Martham Magazine. She was also a member of the Mothers Union and served as a Trustee on the Poors Land Committee.

A well known figure in Somerton and the surrounding villages where she was affectionately referred to as St Hilda and the Duchess of Somerton – she once opened a Three Parishes Festival at Horsey after arriving in a vintage Rolls Royce.

She was a lady of strong principles and would stand firm for what she believed in (as many will no doubt remember!), but she was also a person of great love and generosity.

She died in 1992 aged 84 years after many months of illness borne with dignity and patience. Two years previously she and Alfie had celebrated their diamond wedding. The flag flew at half-mast at St Mary’s on the day of her funeral when the church was packed with family, friends and representatives of the many organisations in which she was involved.

The following words, taken from a poem by John Betjeman, could have been written with Hilda and Alfie Rump in mind;

But most of all let’s praise the few

who are seen in their accustomed pew

throughout the year, whate’er the weather

that they may worship God together.

These, like a fire of glowing coals, 

strike warmth into each other’s souls

and though they be but two or three

they keep the church for you and me.                                                                                                      

Donations at the funeral service were used to start a fund to put a lasting memorial in the church. The following year a side window in the north side of the church porch was uncovered during restoration work and it was decided that this would be re-glazed with a memorial window for Hilda. This was installed and dedicated in 1993 in the presence of Alfie and his family. Alfie continued to live at Grange Cottage until his death in 1996.