Lentune Probus Club and Lentune Probus Ladies Club congratulate your Majesty on the occasion of your coronation and wish you and Queen Camilla a long, happy and joyous reign.


Our clubs are marking the coronation of HM King Charles III and Queen Camilla during our May monthly meetings.

Lentune Probus Ladies Club

Members of the Ladies Club met on 3rd May, donned golden crowns and toasted the King and Queen, albeit slightly in advance of the actual coronation ceremony.

Our speaker this month was former detective Paul Stickler. Now retired, Paul indulges his passion for history and murder investigations to review some of the most fascinating cases in criminal history.

A graduate of the FBI Academy, Virginia, Paul has published two books, about the killing of a Hitchin shopkeeper and her dog in 1919 and the A6 James Hanratty murders in 1961 respectively. He is a member of the Crime Writers’ Association.

In his talk entitled “Historic Murders”, Paul gave a gripping, detailed account of the of the case of 21-year-old actress Gay Gibson, who went missing in 1947 during a sea voyage from Cape Town to Southampton. 

Police boarded the vessel on arrival in Southampton and it slowly emerged that a first-class deck steward, James Camb, had been seen in her cabin before she went missing. Camb claimed he had been friendly with the missing woman but had no knowledge of her disappearance. He had injuries on his body for which he gave an innocent explanation. Confronted with information that he had been seen inside the missing woman's cabin he told a completely different story, claiming they had a sexual relationship. 

No-one knows what actually happened, but Camb claimed she had died and that he had disposed of her body through a porthole. Despite there being no body, he was charged with her murder, found guilty and imprisoned.

More details slowly emerged during and after his imprisonment, and the story has a fascinating aftermath.

Our Ladies sat gripped throughout Paul's talk and questions at the end were plentiful. Lunch followed, with club members still debating whether the jury's "guilty" verdict was correct. 

Lentune Probus Club

The men’s club normally meets on the second Monday of each month but our meeting this month is delayed to 11th May, due to the coronation. As is customary, club members will toast the King and wish him a long and happy reign at our meeting.

Our speaker this month is to be Nick Saunders, who will give his fascinating insight into the life and times of one of the New Forest’s characters, “Brusher Mills”.

Henry Mills, better known as “Brusher Mills”, was born in 1840, grew up in Emery Down and worked as a labourer. In his forties he moved into a charcoal burners hut in woodlands near Sporelake Lawn, where he took up catching snakes, most of which he sold to London Zoo as food for birds of prey, others for the manufacture of ointments to treat snakebites and other ailments.

Henry was nicknamed “Brusher” because he used to sweep the cricket pitch at Balmer Lawn between innings.

A hugely popular man, Brusher enjoyed a regular tipple at the Railway Inn, Brockenhurst, which was subsequently renamed The Snakecatcher in his honour. He was also a major tourist attraction at local fairs.

Brusher became homeless after his hut was vandalised and he took up residence in his favourite hostelry, where he died in 1905 aged 65.

He was buried in St. Nicholas Church, Brockenhurst, where villagers paid for a marble headstone to mark his final resting place.