Hannah Courage of Durweston, Dorset, England

Hannah Courage of Durweston, Dorset, England

Hannah’s full name is Hannah Alexandria Victoria Evilyn Courage. It’s a mouthful, but it fits the petite nine-year-old perfectly. The first name came to her mother in a dream. The next three were added by Hannah’s father so that her initials and family name would always remind her to H.A.V.E. Courage.

She does. She is especially fearless in defense of the rights of others. If someone is being picked on, she leaps to the rescue. “She can get herself in awful trouble protecting people,” her father says. “She even confronts teachers if she feels someone’s being treated unjustly.”

Hannah feels great empathy for anyone who is hurting in any way. And she does something about it. A boy who started school at the same time she did had suffered from neglect and could hardly speak. “Hannah took him under her wing and helped him gain confidence,” her father remembers. “Within a year he was communicating properly and reading well. She also taught him to swim and to fit in with the other children.” Now he’s a good student and Hannah’s self-appointed protector. “She’s always sorting people out at school. In fact she gets into trouble for not getting her own work done because she’s always helping others.”

Her caring isn’t limited to her human friends. She has fifteen frogs in a pond, and she’s named them all. She also has a rabbit and a cat. It’s not surprising that she wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up.

“Hannah loves animals,” her mother says. “She’s not afraid of any of them. When she was a little girl, we had a riding stable nearby, and she used to walk between the horses’ legs. We’d say, ‘You mustn’t do that!’ But the horses didn’t take any notice, and neither did she. Animals come to her like a magnet—stray dogs and all kinds of cats. She just gets round them somehow, even supposedly vicious cats.”

The only animals that seem immune to Hannah’s charms are cows, of which there are many in this dairy farming region. They just look her over with their big eyes and then walk away.

Hannah also wants to be an artist. She draws well, listens to classical music, plays the recorder, and is very good at making models. She’s helpful in the kitchen and outside in the garden, and she helps her father with his large cactus collection. He has over 1400 cacti. Many of them are rare; some are extinct in the wild.

Hannah enjoys the outdoors. She loves to ride horses and takes riding lessons. As time allows, she rides her bike; plays football (soccer), rugby, netball, and field hockey; and roller-blades.

She also likes to hike through the beautiful green countryside. Every walk she takes is a stroll into the past. Nearby, the ruins of an ancient hill fort face the ruins of a Roman encampment on the opposite hillside. In Dorset and adjoining counties, ancient people carved immense figures into hillsides by cutting through the foliage to expose the white chalky soil beneath it. Some thirty miles to the northeast in Wiltshire is Stonehenge—a circle of huge standing stones that is one of the great man-made wonders of the world.

Hannah herself has plucked the past from the earth. In digging a foundation for a rabbit hutch, Brother Courage unearthed an odd-shaped piece of metal. Hannah pounced on it and insisted that it was a valuable artifact. She was right! Experts confirmed it to be a quillon (a centuries-old-dagger); it is now on loan to a museum in Blandford. She also discovered the base of a thirteenth-century blue-glass vase!

The house that Hannah lives in is relatively young at only 192 years of age. Its top floor is built like a ship’s deck, with elm timbers from an old sailing vessel. The house was originally part of the barracks where Lord Portman housed his private army. Now the barracks has been divided into several houses and is known as Barracks Row. The village of Durweston is a beautiful place where each house has a name, and some have thatched roofs.

In 1993 Hannah had an experience that was not about the past but the eternal future. She was sealed to her parents in the London Temple. A friend of the family made her a beautiful white dress for the occasion. The night before the sealing, the family stayed in a room overlooking the temple. “We didn’t get much sleep that night,” Hannah’s mother recalls. “Hannah kept waking up every hour to make sure that the temple was still there. ‘Oh, it’s so beautiful!’ she kept saying. After we had been sealed the next day, she said, ‘I love it. I want to come back.’ She didn’t think that it was fair that we could keep going to the temple but she would have to wait until she was ‘really old’ at twelve to do baptisms for the dead.”

“I liked the cafeteria and the sealing rooms,” Hannah says. “The sealing rooms had mirrors on both sides, and we could see our family going on forever.”

Her family attends the Salisbury Branch, about a half hour drive from home. Although Hannah likes going to church on Sunday, she hates having to wear a dress. She’s much more comfortable in jeans. At her brother’s wedding she wanted to wear her wellies (boots) with her bridesmaid dress.

When Brother Courage was naming Hannah, he first chose Venus for her V name instead of Victoria, because to him his infant daughter was the brightest star in the sky. She still is.

[photos] Photos by Dick Brown, Roland Courage, and Colin Hoare

[photo] 1. Stonehenge

[photo] 2. Salisbury Cathedral

[photo] 3. Hannah

[photo] 4. Family Coat of Arms

[photo] 5. Hannah with her parents in front of their house

[photo] 6. Working with cactus plants

[photo] 7. Hannah with the dagger she found

[photo] 8. With gerbil

[photo] 9. Taking riding lessons

[photo] 10. With rabbit

[photo] 11. With cat

[photo] 12. Brother Courage with an old axe head he found

[photo] 13. Getting off the school bus

[photo] 14. Riding her bike

[photo] 15. Growing tomatoes

[photo] 16. Reading

[photo] 17. A nearby hill site of a Roman encampment