At the time of her death on 20 June 2011, aged 97 years, Freda Head was among the oldest living contributors to Hymns and Psalms. Two of her hymns are in that book: Lord, hear our prayer for this new year (day) (357), and Your will for us and others, Lord (398). Her membership of the main committee for the publication of that hymn book arose from a great interest in hymns.
Freda wrote hymns and poetry over many years and was also choirmistress in Hailsham, East Sussex where her late husband Gordon was organist.
Over decades she had faithfully recorded the hymn numbers from the Methodist Hymn Book which were sung every Sunday at two services of worship. All of her papers relating to that work are now in the Methodist archive of the John Rylands University Library, Manchester.
Another set of papers is in the county record office, Lewes. These relate to the local building fIrm set up by Gordon after the second world war and for which Freda was company secretary. They include ledgers, correspondence and plans of buildings. Alas there are no details of the work done for Methodist churches in the area or for MHA Richmond in Bexhill.
Freda lived in Hailsham for almost all ofher life. She was born nearby in Blackboys and moved to the growing town with her parents and older sister Betty when very young. Her main education was at the County Grammar School for Girls, Lewes, after which she began secretarial work for the local authority in Hailsham. She recalled her horror at discovering the rate of infant mortality and maternal death when working for the medical officer of health in those pre-war days.
The local Methodist Church was central to her life. There Freda met Gordon and they married in 1935. When in the early 50s they built a new house they called it Ravenshaw, the name of the tune set to Lord, thy word abideth, a hymn sung at their wedding. A house group met there for decades and was always known as the Ravenshaw group. Freda held many local church offices and was also a circuit steward for the then Eastbourne Circuit. Clear and articulate in expressing her opinions in a meeting or in a letter, Freda was also the confidante of many. Yet she remained a very private person, reticent about her inner self.
As well as writing and music (including long membership of the Methodist Church Music Society) Freda also enjoyed painting and photography. Her family of Veronica and David Cooper and grandchildren Jenni, Phil, Mark and John have many albums of pictures to enjoy.
The Revd David Cooper