Fundraiser launched to erect riverside bench in memory of community stalwart

A fundraiser to erect a riverside memorial bench has been launched to remember one of Fenland’s community stalwarts.

Sadie Heritage from Whittlesey had many roles within her local community, from a primary school teacher and secretary of Pig Dyke Molly Dancers to supporting the Save the Whales campaign and Greenpeace for over 30 years.

However, Sadie, who died aged 80 in August, may be more fondly remembered for her time on the waterways, travelling on her narrowboat the ‘Straw Bear’.

Tony Forster, boss of Pig Dyke Molly Dancers, met Sadie in the 1980s after she joined his dance group.

“She was central to the creative energy of the team, with a quirky sense of humour inspiring many of our spoof plays for the Whittlesey Straw Bear festival, and she was renowned for her star performances,” he said.

“She was also involved in the hard work which happens throughout every year to create the success of every January’s Straw Bear festival, and built friendships with dancers and visitors across the country and the world.”

Sadie, who spent eight months most years travelling the waterways with her dogs, met lifelong boater and husband Fred Heritage through getting involved in the boating community.

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After Fred’s death, Sadie, also a lifelong supporter of the RNLI, commissioned and paid for a metal bench for him, which is due to be erected in the Midlands.

A fundraiser to have a bench next to The Bower in Whittlesey has since raised nearly £800, for a woman who was well-liked by those she met through many causes.

Writing on their JustGiving page, Cheryl Jakes said: “Sadie had a witty comment and never shy to give an opinion, which some people may have though frivolous or silly at times.

“She had a caring heart and a real community spirit and I like to think of her as leaving little footprints of love, joy, amusement and possibly bewilderment wherever she went.”

At her funeral, ‘straw bearers’ lined the streets of Whittlesey to pay their respects, while a small number of Pig Dyke members were dressed in full make-up and costume as they formed a guard of honour.

To help erect a memorial bench for Sadie, you can donate by visiting: https://bit.ly/3mRw08I.

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