Famous surgeon rests in Hapton graveyard......

Written by Nancy Dunthorne

Whilst Sally Dunthorne and I were visiting Joan Sculfor, on Wed Aug 1st 2018, Joan asked did we know there was a famous neurosurgeon buried in Hapton churchyard? We did not know this....

Joan then proceeded to inform us; his name was Mr Cheney and his grave is located to the right of a church gate. Joan told us Mr Cheney had performed, for free, life-saving surgery on a young girl, called Tenneh, from abroad who had been shot near the eye in the brain and she had information about how later this had altered her life. Joan wasn’t sure where these articles were but I reassured her I would look on line.

Joan told us Mr Cheney had married the former Mrs Knox from Hapton Hall and both were now deceased. Joan also mentioned the former Mrs Knox had embroidered kneelers for Hapton church.

On investigation Tim Ward and I easily located the grave of Mr Geoffrey Cheney and his wife Susan. The grave was located as Joan had said to the right of the gate - the first small gate as you walk down from the direction of Norwich to Hapton. Tim took a photo (see below).

Cheney's Grave

Looking online revealed the worldwide acclaimed story of Tenneh Cole from Sierra Leone who, as a four year old in 1995, had been injured in the head when rebel fighters had fired Kalashnikov assault rifles in her village killing and maiming. Unbeknown a stray bullet lodged into Tennehs skull behind her eye and lay unlocated until a year later following severe headaches. An x-ray revealed a 2cm slug (initially it was thought a rock had given Tenneh a head injury).

Tenneh had been orphaned. The story received global attention and funds were raised to transport her to England to the old Norfolk and Norwich Hospital where lifesaving surgery was performed for free. Mr Cheney, who was the consultant oral and maxillofacial surgeon, removed the bullet successfully. British Dental Journal - Geoffrey Cheney

So thanks to Joan Sculfor’s recollections this story is now able to be retold in our Hapton Historical group. Joan also, on another visit, mentioned to me that in the past she has put flowers on his grave, the grave of this remarkable man who rests in the tranquil grounds of Hapton churchyard.

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