Obituary for Sam Fanaroff BEM – coppersmith and founder of the Sussex Guild

Sam Fanaroff, who was only recently awarded the British Empire Medal for services to the crafts, died peacefully at home in Westham aged 92 on Saturday 16th February.

An inspiration to craft workers in Sussex, Sam came to this country in 1950. He recalled ploughing with a team of fourteen oxen as well as serving an apprenticeship from the age of fourteen with a jeweller in South Africa.  In post-war London, which he called his university, he met anarchist thinkers who affected the course of a long creative life.  In 1965 Sam and his wife Mary Jo joined another family in Westham to live a communal life off the land and by the work of their hands. After the birth of their son David they moved from their caravan to a cottage in Hailsham. 

Sam spent his working life as a coppersmith in Westham completing church commissions as well as doing repair work and creating one off pieces, which earned him an international reputation. The Guild of Sussex Craftsmen was conceived by Sam during a Rural Crafts Exhibition at Michelham Priory in the early 1970’s. It was set up to combat the isolation of craftworkers and to foster friendship and cooperation as well as to promote sales.

The Sussex Guild recently celebrated its 50th anniversary and is a lasting testimony to the idealism, vision and determination of its founder.

We mourn his passing and celebrate his example.


Funeral arrangements:

Funeral at 11.30am on Tuesday 19th March at St Mary’s Church, High Street, Westham BN24 5LL Light refreshments will be served in the church after the service, all are welcome. No flowers please. Donations can be made to the East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service c/o Hailsham Funeral Services, 11 Station road Hailsham East Sussex BN27 2BE 01323 440909.

We will also be holding a celebration of Sam’s life at: 2pm Saturday 18th May at Westham Village Hall, Peelings Lane, Westham BN24 5HE. Please bring memories you would like to share or a favourite piece of Sam’s work you would like to display. There will be tea and cake and a short film of Sam in action in the workshop.

All are welcome

Mary Jo and David Fanaroff thank you for all the cards and messages of goodwill.

Metalsmith Sam Fanaroff - The Sussex Guild

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