Blue plaque unveiled in Lancing marks village's '˜role in global events'

It was a moving moment as a blue plaque, which commemorates the Basque child refugees offered sanctuary in Lancing, was finally unveiled at a community event.

Wednesday, 24th May 2017, 11:37 am
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 9:41 pm
The unveiling of the plaque

It was particularly meaningful for visiting speaker Jim Jump, as it was at Penstone House – now the site of Lancing Library – where the refugees were housed 80 years ago, that his parents met and fell in love.

His mother, Cayetana Lozano Diaz, was only 22 when she was sent over from Spain in the summer of 1937 to help care for the 30 refugee children housed in the village.

Mr Jump told more than 50 attendees at the afternoon event on Saturday: “My mother was always very grateful for the way British people helped – ordinary people, who couldn’t afford much.”

Cayetana Lozano Díaz and James Jump with some of the refugee children in Lancing in 1937

Due to the public outcry that followed the bombing of Guernica, the government invited almost 4,000 people from Spain’s Basque region to seek refuge in the UK – on the condition that they were looked after entirely by volunteers.

Mr Jump’s father, James Jump, a reporter at the Worthing Herald, was one of the many local people who generously volunteered their time at Penstone House.

He married Cayetana three years later in 1940, after fighting in Spain with the International Brigade for 14 months.

Mr Jump, who is the secretary of the International Brigade Memorial Trust, said the afternoon was ‘satisfying and moving’.

Councillor Lee Cowen with the new blue plaque

“It’s important that people in Lancing remember their part in global events of the time,” he said.

The International Brigade Memorial Trust was set up to ‘keep alive the memory and spirit’ of those ‘often forgotten’ people who went to fight in Spain’s Civil War.

Mr Jump travelled to the event in Lancing from London with a second speaker, Manuel Moreno, who is the son of a Basque refugee who came to England.

After the unveiling, guests enjoyed Basqued-themed food and live music from rock band the Dockyard oysters, folk singer Ian Fyvie and The Crows Feet in the sunshine.

At the unveiling, with a mural of Picasso's Guernica. Photo: Sophie Cook

Lancing spanish teacher Alan Bradley talked visitors through a library exhibition he had made explaining the story of the refugees in Lancing.

The exhibition of newspaper cuttings and photographs was first shown in September last year.

Councillor Lee Cowen, who organised the event, said it went ‘really well’ and said it was important to celebrate Lancing’s history.

The blue plaque, which is the village’s first, is located by the entrance to Lancing Library.

Cayetana Lozano Díaz and James Jump with some of the refugee children in Lancing in 1937

It has been funded by Lancing Parish Council.

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Councillor Lee Cowen with the new blue plaque

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At the unveiling, with a mural of Picasso's Guernica. Photo: Sophie Cook