Tales from the Archive: The Man Who Got Sunburn in January and the Fittleworth UFO


This story was published on May 5 in the Chichester Observer. Read the original story at bognor.co.uk/news/local/man-who-got-sunburn-in-january-1-7365068]

[All images: West Sussex Record Office archives]


We’re well accustomed to the cold in this part of the world – so much so, that occasionally a bit of extra heat can be disastrous.

One man who found this out the hard was Mr Alan Cook, who became known as ‘The Man Who Got Sunburn in January’ after a mishap with a suntan lamp in late January in 1979.

Icy winds may have been blowing through his home village of Bosham, but Mr Cook managed to get the suntan of a lifetime.

The 49 year old machine operator brought a £25 suntan lamp for his wife, and decided to give the device a go himself.

The treatment was supposed to be spread gradually over 19 days.

However, Mr Cook had misread the instructions and instead gave himself the full treatment in a mere 12 minutes.

Despite gaining many painful blisters from his misadventure, Mr Cook was able to see the humour in the situtation.

He said: “Now I am as red as a beetroot and so sore that I cannot sleep at night.

“But I can see the funny side of it.”

His wife, Joan Cook, tried to soothe the soreness with suntan lotion.

“I can feel the heat radiating from him,” she said.

His doctor, however, wasn’t so sympathetic.

After consulting the GP about his suntan, Mr Cook recalled that the doctor “chuckled and said the best thing I could do was jump into a snowdrift.”

This wasn’t the only strange going on in West Sussex in 1979, however.

An unidentified flying object was reported to the police by a Fittleworth woman.

Making front page news in the Midhurst and Petworrth Observer on February 3, 1979, the paper asked if anyone else had seen the Unidentified Flying Object, which has been spotted over Fittleworth.

Mrs Kaye Stuart-Sawer of Tripp Hill looked out of her bedroom window at 7am on a Friday morning and saw a bright light appear in the sky.

She said: “It got so brilliant it could not be an aircraft, and seemed to be approaching from the South.

“After half a minute it suddenly shot off sideways towards Horsham

“My husband told me he saw something like this over Storrington about a year ago.

“I have never seen anything like it before.

“I am normally very sceptical about these things, but it certainly made me think.”

Did you spot the Unidentified Flying Object paying Fittleworth and Horsham a friendly visit in 1979?


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