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Memories of St Margaret's - Fund Raising For The Church

As a small child growing up during the war, I was always aware that one had to think of others and however small the proceeds, one had to try to raise some money for the war effort, etc.  It was normal for my mother and grandmother to go off to a whist drive, which was being held for a certain fund raising event; to cut and dry all our lavender in the garden, make silk bags on the sewing machine, and make and sell lavender bags around the neighbours; or together with the girl next door and a few friends, produce a concert in the garden, and so it all seemed the thing to do.

Soon, I also became aware that the Church was ‘poor’ financially, when we had woodworm in the wooden roof rafters and a Roof Fund was launched.  Mrs Joan Northam of Barton Road would open her large garden for Garden Parties to raise money.  There were also whist drives, as this was, as above, the accepted way to raise money, bit by bit.

The increasing congregation and PCC also realized that the Church could not exist unless we had a permanent Curate in our parish, but this all took money and we needed to provide accommodation for him and, in most cases, his family.  It was decided to purchase 228 Barton Road (New Bedford Road North), for this purpose, and to do so we needed to take out a loan which had to be paid back like a monthly mortgage.  This was a large stone round the parish’s neck, but money was raised and eventually it was paid off.  That was a serious commitment by the parishioners of that time.

Every year, there would be the annual fete which was usually held in the gardens of Mr and Mrs Dunham’s Streatley House, and this tradition carried on through different owners until a few years ago, but the fete is now held in the Village Hall and surrounding field.  In the 1950’s, Noel Houlston ran Fruit, Vegetable and Flower Shows with cakes and preserves, sponsored by Amateur Gardening which were held in the ballroom of the Warden Tavern (now the restaurant).  A good friend of the family and Church member was Mrs Ann Jeffs, who often ran whist drives in the afternoon in the conservatory on the side of her bungalow in Icknield Way, getting friends to donate prizes.  Later, Christmas Fayres were held in the Village Hall, but are now held in the Parish Centre.

During the time of the Rev Allan Bliss, he got a group of people together to form the Entertainments Committee.  This was solely to help raise money for the Church, as well as providing a good entertainment and social opportunity for the parishioners.  This certainly kept us busy in organizing Jumble Sales in the Village Hall and in St Augustine’s Hall (we didn’t have a Parish Centre at that stage), and Dances in the Village Hall.  This was extremely hard work and entailed not only providing a supper, but setting out all the alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks for consumption.  A licence had to be procured by Liz Simmonds, from The Chequers (this was before the Village Hall was licensed) and glasses had to be hired too.  Can you imagine all the heavy humping of the bottles, etc. tables and chairs set out round the room, and a band to set out on the stage?  By the time the event started, the committee felt too worn out to dance much themselves!  However, they did raise good sums of money and the dances were well worth putting on and were great fun.

Many years ago, the Village itself held annual Fetes and Gymkhanas in the large field in Church Road opposite the allotments.  The Committee would have a fruit stall there and Ron Baker, our then Chairman, would go off to fruiterers he knew and manage to acquire at cost, loads of fruit for us to sell.  Of course we needed to sell it all to make a profit!  We also had Flower Festivals, but they were organized by a separate Committee on each occasion.

At Church, we have had Talent Schemes: each person in the congregation being given £1 or £5 to put to good use to make more money, and after a certain time lapse all monies would be recalled with their profits.  When the chancel needed outside brick work to be replaced, we had a ‘Buy a Brick’ scheme.  We also had Barn Dances at New Farm.

Eventually, the Entertainments Committee was split into a Social Committee for non-profit social events, the Fund Raising Committee for Church funds, and the CARE Committee to raise monies for charities here and overseas.

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