Helmdon Parish Council

Serving the people of Helmdon

Clerk: Mrs Helen du Bois
2A Station Road, Helmdon
Northamptonshire NN13 5QT

Fellowship News Archive & Picture Gallery

Fellowship News Archive 2000-2017

A 90th Birthday At The Fellowship - posted 10 September 2017

Fish and chips were on the menu for the Felowship on Friday 08 September, and it was also the occasion of Joan Hadfield's 90th birthday.

After the excellent meal, members sang "happy birthday" as she cut a beautifully decorated birthday cake in order to share the celebration with all present.

We hope that you had a wonderful birthday, Joan, and send all best wishes.

St Patrick's Day Lunch - posted 19 March 2017

Eyes down! Front left: David Brookhouse, and front right: Alan Watson

The Fellowship celebrated St Patrick's Day with a special lunch, and afterwards Irish jokes and Irish songs added to the spirit of the occasion.

Thanks must be given to committee members Carol Brookhouse, Doreen England, Adrienne Watson, Rosemary Gulliver, Barbara Buxton and visiting helper Diana Cliff for the cooking and serving of the delicious meal, to Cec Harrold and Bill Elkington who acted as wine waiters, and to Ann Harman who played the piano. It was another memorable Fellowship event, and long may these wonderful occasions continue.

Strawberries And Cream At The Garden Party - posted 02 August 2016

fellowship garden party

From left to right: Geoff Robinson, Ann Harman,
Pat Woodhams, John Woodhams and Sheila Somerton

The annual Fellowship garden party was again held in the lovely garden of David and Carol Brookhouse. Mindful of the varied summer weather we have had this year the company of over 50 members were seated comfortably under sun umbrellas and a garden marquee to cope with all eventualities.

By popular request Stan Shenton paid his second visit to the Felowship and played folk music throughout the afternoon.

We were served with a delicious tea featuring strawberries and cream by the committee (Carol Brookhouse, Barbara Buxton, Adrienne Watson, Val Smith and Rosemary Gulliver) to whom all thanks once again. The Bring and Buy stall was manned as always by Doreen England, and the afternoon raised the excellent sum of £224.55, £100 of which went to The Alzheimers Society and the rest to Fellowship Funds.

Blankets, Pies And Downton - posted 12 May 2016

Downton Abbey

Old sheep pens at Cogges which featured as Yew Tree Farm in Downton Abbey

Fellowship members and visitors enjoyed a visit to the Old Blanket Hall and Cogges Farm in Witney on Monday 09May.

Witney Blanket Hall was built in 1721 by the Company of Blanket Makers. For over 120 years every blanket woven in the town came to the Hall to be weighed and measured, and upstairs in the Great Room the Company set the rules for the trade. Early & Co shut down its operation in 2002 but in 2015 the Hall reopened to visitors. Our guide told us about the Hall's illustrious past and then we descended on the Pie Shop which provided delicious lunches with perhaps the best pies we had eaten for many a long while. We then toured the building and were able to browse the shop which offered woollen blankets, socks and throws, etc., for sale.

After lunch we travelled the short distance to Cogges Manor Farm, the setting for the farm scenes of 'Yew Tree Farm' in the TV production Downton Abbey(you may remember the scenes between Lady Edith and Marigold). Cogges is a beautifully preserved collection of Cotswold stone farm buildings set in its own grounds. The site has been farmed since before Domesday Book and parts of the manor house date back to the Thirteenth Century. We could see why the BBC were keen to use Cogges Farm for Downton (and also for items in Countryfile and the TV production Arthur & George) and the interesting guide showed photographs and told us about Downton's filming.

Thank you, Carol Brookhouse, for arranging yet another excellent visit.

The Queen's 90th Birthday Celebration - posted 25 April 2016

The Queen's 90th Birthday lunch

A splendid lunch

A group of around 45 Fellowship members sat down to a splendid celebration buffet meal in honour of the Queen on her 90th Birthday, Thursday, 21st April.

A lusty rendition of the national anthem showed our appreciation of the fact that Her Majesty has been on the throne most of all of our lives, giving unswerving loyalty and devotion to the Country and the Commonwealth. During the excellent meal a DVD was shown about her life which was enjoyed by all.

A special thank you should be accorded to Carol Brookhouse who organised the event, ably assisted by the committee, Barbara Buxton, Doreen England, Rosemary Gulliver, Val Smith, and Adrienne Watson, and the co-opted wine waiters for the afternoon, Cec Harrold and John Coatsworth.

God Save the Queen!

February Change Of Programme - posted 08 February 2016

There is a change of programme for the Fellowship on Friday, 12th February. The talk is now entitled Dressed To Impress, with slides, presented by Greta Paradine Palmer, which will be of interest to both sexes.

The Fellowship meetings are open to all over sixties and retirees. After the talk there is always an excellent tea and new members are very welcome.

Summer Garden Party In Aid Of The Katherine House Hospice- posted 17 August 2015

Fellowship tea party

The strawberry and cream tea in full swing

It was a lovely sunny day in the garden of Acres End, the home of David and Carol Brookhouse, which was the venue for a garden party for around fifty people on Friday, 7thAugust.

Good entertainment was provided in the form of folk music by Stan Shenton, and the committee served a delicious strawberry and cream tea.

£304.60 was raised for the Katherine House Hospice. Thanks to all those who contributed to this excellent sum.

Fellowship Christmas Party - posted 18 December 2014

Fellowship entertainmnetThe splendid "We Three"

At the Fellowship Christmas party on Friday, December 10th, 48 members enjoyed entertainment by "'We Three", a very talented trio. There were very amusing monologues, wonderful singing, and classical music.

This was followed by an excellent tea, provided as always by the committee, Carol Brookhouse, Pauline Payne, Barbara Buxton, Val Smith, Rosemary Gulliver and Doreen England.

The afternoon was rounded off by carol singing accompanied by Ann Harman on the piano, and, of course, Father Christmas made his annual appearance with gifts for all.

An Amazing £535 Raised For Help The Heroes At Garden Party - posted 14 August 2014

garden party

Musical entertainment at the garden party

A large number of members and friends turned out for the Garden Party on Friday 8th August held at Acres End, Field Way. In spite of glowering skies the weather kept fine for banjo player Neil Sims, who entertained us with songs and David Perkins, a Help the Heroes volunteer, who told us about the his work of the charity and whetted our appetites for the Fellowship's proposed visit to Tedworth House, the Help for Heroes Recovery Centre, later in the year. Our appetites were also whetted by the delicious tea kindly donated by the committee. There was a bring and buy stall and raffle, and the amazing proceeds of £535 went to the Help the Heroes charity. Thank you to David and Carol Brookhouse who lent their garden for this event and faced the inevitable clearing up – done just in time before the heavens opened!

Summer Coffee Morning - posted 10 August 2014

Fellowship garden party

Lots to talk about (photo: Barbara Buxton)

A Fellowship Garden Party attracted a large number of members and friends on Wednesday 9th July, no doubt in part to the lovely sunny summer weather. It was held at Romiley in Cross Lane, by kind permission of Trudie and Barbara Buxton.

Enjoyable Visit To The Lavender Fields- posted 11 July 2014

the lavender fields

Sue Lidgley stops to admire the lavender

Fellowship members and friends enjoyed a visit to Caldwell Farm in Hertfordshire on Friday 4 July.

After a pleasant lunch they braved the hottest day of the year so far (made somewhat more pleasant by a slight breeze), walking out into the surrounding Hitchin Lavender Fields.

The guide gave us a short history of the Hitchin lavender fields. They go back a long time for in the sixteenth century the small market town was one of only two major lavender growing areas in the country. He then explained the differences between the lavender varieties, how they are grown, and the making of the lavender into the different gifts available at the shop, all made from lavender flowers or essential oils, 100% of which come from the farm.

Some members turned back but the more intrepid ones amongst the group walked way up the hill, and were rewarded by a beautiful view across several counties and an overview of the lavender fields. Cups of tea and ices rounded off a very enjoyable day.

Interesting Visit To The Poppy Factory - posted 03 June 2014


Forty members of the Fellowship visited The Poppy Factory in Richmond on Monday 2nd June. To the surprise of many of our members it is not run by the British Legion but is a charity in its own right, employing and housing its workers, disabled ex-servicemen.

After lunch we were given a very comprehensive history of the charity. For nearly 90 years it has been making poppies, crosses and wreaths for the Royal Family and the Royal British Legion's annual Remembrance Day appeal. In recent years, as well as providing work for disabled veterans at the The Poppy Factory itself, the charity has used its unique expertise to help clients find work with many commercial organisations all over the UK.

Then came an interesting half-hour when we were shown round the actual factory, which is busy all the year round.

Another memorable Fellowship visit. Thank you Carol Brookhouse for organising it so ably.

Coffee Party At Acres End - posted 22 April 2014

Fellowship coffee morning

Coffee on a lovely spring morning - May 2014

The Helmdon Fellowship has coffee mornings throughout the year. This is by kind permission of several Helmdon residents who do not mind thirty or forty members coming to their houses and enjoying their gardens, whilst partaking in tea and biscuits and generally putting the world to rights.

We have recently been to Barbara and Trudie Buxton's; the occasion above left was a lovely sunny spring morning at David and Carol's Brookhouses's bungalow in Acres End. Bring and Buy and raffles always feature and are strongly supported, because this is the way the organisation subsidises their various trips throughout the summer.

Visitors are welcome on trips: please refer to the Fellowship Programme for details.

Excellent Speaker, Excellent Contribution To Air Ambulance - posted 14 January 2014

Fellowship meeting

Carol Brookhouse and the speaker, Tim Hewlett
(photo: Barbara Buxton)

Carol Brookhouse, Fellowship Chair, is also President this year of the Inner Wheel Club of Brackley, and to celebrate 10hJanuary, the founding 90 years ago of Inner Wheel worldwide, fifty Helmdon Fellowship members were joined by twenty-five Brackley Inner Wheel members for their January meeting, who kindly provided and served an excellent tea to all present.

The speaker was Tim Hewlett, one-time wing commander in the Royal Air Force and latterly the Director of Royal Travel from 2001 until 2012, who gave us a fascinating insight into all the complications, hurdles and sometimes the perks of the planning of royal travel, and regaled us with some tales for which all recording devices had to be switched off!

There was a bring and buy stall and raffle and it is very pleasing to report that the excellent sum of £387 was raised for the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance service.

From Fellowship members to Brackley Inner Wheel – thank you for our excellent tea. You may come and join us again any time!

Christmas Party 2013 - posted 22 December 2013

Fellowship Christmas Party

Father Christnas giving out his gifts to (from left)
Trudie Buxton, Win Wood and Ann Harman with Jan Harrold looking on

The Fellowship year would not be complete without the annual Christmas party. The entertainer was one of the Blitz Sisters, Elizabeth Mahon, with favourite tunes from the 40s, who got us all singing happily along with her.

Christmas tea was laid on by the committee, Carol Brookhouse, Rosemary Gulliver, Doreen England, Barbara Buxton, Sheila Somerton and Pauline Payne, who have worked so hard during the year providing an interesting and entertaining programme and who cater for the teas at each meeting.

Amongst other places, Father Christmas was seen at the Christmas Lunch Club meeting and spied going by pony and trap up Hintons Close to the Acorns Pre-School, and he duly made his appearance at the Fellowship Christmas tea, bearing gifts for all. Thank you, John Coatsworth, for making this possible!

Memorable Visit To The National Arboretum - posted 31 July 2013

National arboretum

(photo: Alex Corrin)

The National Memorial Arboretum is the Uk's Centre of remembrance, covering 250 memorials set in 150 acres of maturing woodland, located in the heart of the country within the National Forest near Litchfield.

Helmdon Fellowship and friends went to the Arboretum on Wednesday 24th July and everyone enjoyed the visit to this most special and unique place.

The photograph shows a section of the Armed Forces Memorial which commemorates the men and women of our Armed & Merchant Services who have lost their lives in conflict, as a result of terrorist action or in training exercises since the end of World War II. It is a striking piece of architecture designed by Liam O'Connor, inspired by the ancient landscapes of pre-historic Britain and the classical forms of ancient Rome.

A Sunny Summer Day At The Buxton's - posted 19 July 2013

coffee party at Buxton's

In foreground, left to right, Jan Harrold, Douglas Hadfield,
Trudi Buxton and Joan Hadfield

Coffee mornings require hosts and it is not everyone who welcomes the prospect of maybe thirty to forty people tramping round their houses in possibly inclement weather, so the Fellowship committee would like to thank the following who have kindly stepped up this Fellowship year, namely Ann Smith, Alan and Eileen Watson, Barbara and Trudi Buxton and Carol and David Brookhouse.

The summer coffee morning at the Buxton's in a very wet 2012 was a fine enough day, but this year it was held in the middle of a heat wave. However, nothing daunted, Fellowship members thoroughly enjoyed a sunny morning in a beautiful garden, and £160 was raised for Fellowship funds. Thank you to all those who helped and attended, making it a very happy occasion.

Visit To The Llama Farm - posted 30 April 2013

The Fellowship at Catanger Llama Farm

Fellowship members at Catanger Llama Farm, Weston.
Celia Terrey holds the baby llama

Catanger Farm, Weston, a 40 acre Llama farm established in 1995 by David and Mary Pryce, was the venue for Fellowship members on Friday 19 April.

Mary met us and gave us an interesting introductory talk. Llamas are gentle pack animals which on Catanger are mostly used for trekking whilst exploring the beautiful Northamptonshire countryside. Twenty acres of native woodland have been planted with paths and rides threading through them, the rest is pasture and hay fields for the sixty strong herd of llamas and a few donkeys. Although she has visits such as the Fellowship's, the Pryce's main business is the llama trekking.

Llamas may live for twenty years and on going outside to meet them in the paddock, we were introduced to Henry, the oldest inhabitant, and several of his chums. Some of our members took great delight in leading them around.

We all enjoyed our sunny afternoon on Catanger Farm (which was followed by the Fellowship's customary delicious tea in the Reading Room) and thank our Chairman, Carol Brookhouse, for arranging the visit.

Coffee Morning At Trudie And Barbara Buxton's - posted 05 July 2012

fellowship coffee party

(from left) Conrad Woolley, Liz Woolley, Joan Morris,
Audrey Forgham, Ann Harman and Geoffrey Robinson

During the autumn and winter the Fellowship has a full programme of meetings in the Reading Room. During the summer the meetings give way to outings and coffee mornings which keep members in touch with one another. The June coffee morning pictured, at Trudie and Barbara Buxton's home, was well attended and enjoyed by all in rare good weather for the summer of 2012, raising around £150 for Fellowship funds.

Outing To Exbury Gardens - posted 24 May 2012

Fellowship at Exbury Gardens

(from left) Ann Smith, Jenny Saunders,
Ann Harman, Jack Harman, Julia Osborne
and Celia Terrey - resting their feet.
(photo: John Woodhams)

The Fellowship spent a very enjoyable day at Exbury Gardens in the New Forest area of Hampshire. The Gardens are a spectacular 200 acre site, world-famous for the Rothschild Collection of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and rare trees.

Luckily, for early May has been exceptionally dull and rainy, it was a sunny day, and this meant that the azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons were appreciated to the full. Some Fellowship members and friends chose between exploring by chauffeur-driven buggy or steam railway. For those who preferred to view the natural beauty on foot, there were welcome seats. All in all, a very successful outing.

Entertainment With David And A Guitar - posted 19 April 2012

entertainment with a guitar

(from left) David Taylor, Liz Woolley, Val Smith and Zena Balch
(photo: Barbara Buxton)

The Helmdon Fellowship was entertained by David Taylor for the final Friday afternoon session of this year's winter programme.

David took the afternoon off from his job as a Director of Studies and teacher at English Language House in Milton Keynes to sing songs from the 60s, 70s and 80s accompanied by his guitar. He asked for his fee to be donated to Help for Heroes, a cause close to him as his brother is serving in Afghanistan.

The Fellowship's busy summer programme will include several trips, a Diamond Jubilee and fish-and-chips lunches and a coffee morning. Some of the trips and the coffee morning are open to all, so do come along. If you are retired, we'd be delighted for you to join the Fellowship.

Mugs At The Fellowship - posted 24 January 2012

decorated mugs
Some or the decorated mugs before firing

At the Fellowship January meeting we had a welcome return visit from Irene Inness (ably assisted by Jackie Oliver).

When Irene and Jackie visited last year, Fellowship members decorated pencil pots; this time they had mugs to decorate with dots and squiggles in the style of (and there is emphasis on "in the style of"!) aboriginal art.

Irene has taken the pots home to fire and we shall enjoy getting them back at the next meeting.

Christmas Party - posted 22 December 2011

Father Christmas and Fellowship members

(from left) Jean Brookhouse, Trudie Buxton,
Father Christmas and Olive Holton

(photo: Barbara Buxton)

The Fellowship programme for 2011 ended on a high note on 9 December with over fifty members gathering together in the Reading Room for their Christmas party.

Entertainment was provided in rousing style by 'Our Flossie'. This was her third visit, but she did not disappoint, this time featuring songs from the sixties. We all admired her skill as she again demonstrated the art of deftly changing in and out of costumes and taking on new characters while keeping up humorous patter. Afterwards all joined in the singing of carols.

The Fellowship committee (Carol Brookhouse, Pauline Payne, Doreen England, Sheila Somerton, Rosemary Gulliver and Barbara Buxton) provided a delicious tea, and Father Christmas (otherwise known as John Coatsworth) made his usual visit with presents for all.

Varied Events During the Yearposted 14 June 2011

Helmdon Fellowship has enjoyed varied events since the start of their 2010-2011 programme.

We held our AGM in October followed by a talk on 'Doorstep Crime' by Lyn Coppin from Northants Police.

In November we were enthralled by the art work of Brian Marshall and his talk 'Puddles of Colour', so much so that several of our members have joined his art class.

We also went Christmas Shopping to Milton Keynes later on in the month.

'Our Flossie' entertained us again at the Christmas Party, she was brilliant, and I have already booked her for this coming year.

For our January meeting we watched the film 'Tea with Mussolini'.

In February Lesley Underwood did a cookery demonstration on 'Cooking for One or Two', her delicious recipes proved to be very popular with everyone. (Men as well!!) We held a 'Shrove Tuesday' lunch, many pancakes were consumed.

Everyone turned their hand to decorating a pot at the "Ceramics Workshop" which Irene Innes held for us in March.

At the last Get-together in April we used our voices for 'How can I stop singing' with Natasha Thompson.

During the winter months we have held Coffee mornings at Ann Smith's and at Alan and Eileen Watson's – we are very grateful for the use of these venues and to all those who come along and support us.

We have recently taken a trip to Milton Keynes Museum & to Trentham Gardens. We also have a garden party & coffee mornings planned. So if you are over sixty or retired why not come along and join us. We meet from October until April on the second Friday of the month in the Reading Room at 2-30pm; we have a speaker followed by afternoon tea.

Carol Brookhouse
Chairman, Helmdon Fellowship.

Potters Hard At Work- posted 19 March 2011

pottery class

(from left to right) Jean Bearman, Ann Smith, Paddy Elkington
and Conrad Woolley,
Jan Harrold in the background.

The Helmdon Fellowship had another creative afternoon on Friday 11th March when Irene Inness gave us a demonstration of how pottery is produced and then showed us how to apply star-glaze to make decorative pen-holders. All 40 members who came had their own pot to paint (it's all right, we were

v-e-r-y careful not to spill anything). We shall see the results after firing in April.

Christmas Party - posted 28 December 2010

Christmas entertainer
'Our Flossie'

The Fellowship enjoyed a record turnout for the annual Christmas party on 10 December, where we were entertained by 'Our Flossie', who returned to us after the success of last year. She came with a whole new repertoire of songs from the shows, the War years and winning Eurovision contest songs. She deftly changed outfits with each turn, - she makes the costumes herself, -and kept up a patter of humorous commentary whilst singing exceptionally clearly and with perfect pitch. She finished the hour's programme with Christmas carols for everyone to join in.

We then had tea with sandwiches, cakes, mince-pies and trifle, provided by the committee of Carol Brookhouse, Doreen England, Rosemary Gulliver, Pauline Payne and Sheila Somerton. Crackers added to the festive spirit as did a visit from Father Christmas, who handed out bars of chocolate for everyone and kisses for special guests. Sadly, John Coatsworth missed this visit but mysteriously returned after Father Christmas left. The Reading Room was decked out with decorations and a Christmas tree, the tables were laid with Christmas cloths and candles, and there was a bumper crop of raffle prizes. To add to the jollity, Carol announced that the tea was free this year. Members left with a gift of a notebook and pen. Make a note, Our Flossie will return next year!

Barbara Buxton

Artist At Work At The November Meeting - posted 16 November 2010

artist at work

We all now know how to highlight the trunks of trees so that they look round !

The Fellowship had a painting lesson at their November meeting. At the last minute Guide Dogs for the Blind were unable to send a speaker, and a recent newcomer to the village, Brian Marshall, stepped in.

Whilst telling us about the techniques he employed and the type of paper and paint brushes which were the most useful, he painted a striking watercolour in front of an appreciative audience of over forty members.

Brian is hoping to begin morning art lessons in the Reading Room after Christmas and to judge from the interest he aroused at this meeting, they look as though they will take place.

Visit To The Elan Valley - posted 26 June 2010

On Wednesday 23rd June 2010 Fellowship members and visitors enjoyed a wonderful day trip to the Elan Valley in Mid-Wales.

We managed to include a coffee stop at a garden centre for a bit of retail therapy on the way, before heading to Rhyader and on to the reservoir. After a stop at the visitor centre for a picnic lunch we boarded the coach for a scenic tour of the lakes.

We travelled back for supper in Evesham, where we encountered lots of excited England football supporters.

The scenery was truly magnificent all day, we covered some 330 miles – it was a long day but a very memorable one.

Carol Brookhouse

Visit to Fir Tree Falconry - posted 8 May 2010

Carol brookhouse was among those who donned stout gloves

After the highly enjoyable visit of the owls and falcons and their trainer to Helmdon, a large group from the Fellowship were able to return the visit and see the birds at home at Fir Tree Falconry, near Banbury. We were blessed with a sunny day to take in the stunning scenery, see all the birds up close and sit outside to enjoy a ploughman's lunch. We all fell in love with a young owl, all fluffy feathers, who seemed to have no fear of visitors and happily wandered amongst us, nibbling everyone's fingers. Then we were given a flying display, first a falcon that covered miles in a few minutes, and then owls flying spectacularly over our heads, - just! A new young snowy owl was still being trained and we watched Keith patiently enticing it with mice and chicks (glad we'd finished our lunch). Several members also donned stout gloves and got the birds to fly to their hands. We learned more about the remarkable skills of the birds and the work they do clearing sites of pests for the Ministry of Defence. Keith and his wife did a fantastic job in entertaining and educating us, and we all gained even more respect for the birds of prey and their trainer.

Barbara Buxton

Members Get Close And Personal With Birds Of Prey - posted 16 February 2010

Shelia Somerton falls for the charms of Grumpy, the smallest owl.
Shelia Somerton falls for the charms
of Grumpy, the smallest owl.

On Friday 12 February Keith Jones from Fir Tree Falconry gave a fascinating talk on owls, falcons and other birds of prey and brought along 5 splendid birds, - a noisy little owl called Grumpy that everyone wanted to take home, a large handsome hawk, a smaller peregrine falcon, a charming kestrel and an eagle owl with a huge wing-span, and also a tame ferret called Panda.

We learned about the different hunting techniques of the birds (did you know that owls have poor close vision and use sound to hunt, and even have off-set ears to help them hear a mouse 25 feet away and that hawks can fly at 200 miles per hour?).

Doreen England bravely holds the largest owl; an eagle owl.
Doreen England bravely holds the largest owl; an eagle owl.

Keith emphasised that the birds are not pets but working birds and that they are trained with food reward. In fact, the term 'fed up' comes from falconry as birds that are 'fed up' are useless as they sit about doing nothing for days, and only those that are hungry enough are useful.

Hunting with birds is an ancient tradition, which lessened in usefulness with the invention of rifles, but it is still immensely popular as a sport with birds costing thousands of pounds.

Keith and his team at Fir Tree Falconry use the birds they train professionally for jobs such as clearing areas of pigeons, as well as visiting schools and giving demonstrations at shows.

It was a privilege to see the birds at such close quarters and several members of the Fellowship took up the offer of holding the birds and getting them to fly to them for food. It was a most memorable talk and we look forward to a visit to the Falconry in the summer.

Barbara Buxton

Visit To Peterborough Cathedral- posted 25 January 2010

Inside Peterborough Cathedral.

Inside Peterborough Cathedral

On Friday January 22nd the Fellowship arranged a visit to Peterborough and Fellowship members were joined by WEA members, who had been enthused by the autumn 2009 course on cathedral architecture with lecturer Keith Hasted.

The cathedral did not disappoint. It is known for its imposing Early English Gothic west front; the beautiful hand painted nave ceiling, the stunning fan vaulting in the new building, and the colossal central tower, will remain in the memory.

There was time for lunch and a stroll around Peterborough before the journey home.

Fellowship Christmas Party - 30th December 2009

Entertainer 'Our Flossie'

Fellowship members (from left to right) David Brookhouse, Wilf Forgham,
Audrey Forgham and
Ann Smith, being entertained by 'Our Flossie'

On 11th December the Fellowship once again enjoyed a record turn-out for the Christmas party in the Reading Room, which looked very festive with decorations and a Christmas tree. 'Our Flossie' entertained with great skill and humour non-stop for an hour with songs from the shows, films and 60s pop, for which she deftly changed costume each time to look thepart.

Santa with Fellowship members

Santa Surpises Pam Short and (right) Doreen Brock

She then led a spirited carol singing session before a tea was served with sandwiches, mince-pies, trifle and cakes, which had been provided by the committee members - Carol Brookhouse, Sheila Somerton, Pauline Payne, Doreen England, Barbara Buxton and Rosemary Gulliver. Finally Father Christmas visited with a large sack of presents, - a large bar of chocolate and a Christmas bauble with Bronnley soap for each.

Barbara Buxton

Autumn Visit to Rockingham Castle - 20th September 2009

Rockingham castle norman gateway

The Norman Gateway at Rockingham Castle
- Mick told us that the walls are 9 feet thick

Earlier in the programme year the Fellowship enjoyed a talk by Mick Boyce on Kenilworth Castle & The Watsons, and the history he talked about came to life on 17th September when forty fellowship members and friends visited the Castle itself.

Mick and a colleague showed up over the house. It has an incredible heritage. Built on the instruction of William the Conqueror, since the time that it had been relinquished as a royal castle 450 years ago it has been the Watson family's home. Members wondered how many countless hours had been spend fashioning the "elephant hedge", which bisects the formal 17th century terraced gardens with their wonderful roses. The little parish church of St Leonard's, just outside the castle walls, was interesting for its stained glass.

All in all an enjoyable visit- in spite of cold, windy weather.

Summer Coffee Mornings - 13th July 2009

Fellowship Coffee Morning

Coffee Morning in Trudie and Babara Buxton's garden

Fellowship members and guests have had three coffee mornings this year, at Alan and Eileen Watson's house, in Carol and David Brookhouse's garden, and the garden of Trudie and Barbara Buxton (right).

All were much enjoyed and raised funds for the organisation.

Cruising Down The River... - 9th July 2009

A beautiful afternoon (centre Pauline Payne)

The Fellowship went cruising down the river on one of the hottest days of the year.

Umbrellas went up, not for rain but for the sun, and the three and a half hours journey took the group from Reading, through Mapledurham, Pangbourne and Goring (some of the loveliest parts of the River Thames) up to Wallingford.

Light Lunch - 20th September 2008

From left to right: Dougas Hadfield, Joan Hadfield,
Peggy Archer,
Doreen Brock and Trudie Buxton

"Fellowship Light Lunch" were the words printed on the programme, but as Douglas Hadfield said (whilst proposing the vote of thanks for an excellent meal to the committee, Carol Brookhouse, Ann Harman, Sheila Somerton, Pauline Payne, Doreen England, Barbara Buxton and Rosemary Gulliver), if what we had had was a light lunch, he didn't know what we would have got had it been a medium meal, let alone a large one!

Father Christmas Drops In On The Fellowship - 14th December2008

Father Christmas with (left to right) Eileen Watson, Sheila and Colin Oakey

Father Christmas always manages to make time to call in on the Helmdon Fellowship, and Christmas 2008 was no exception.

Before his visit members were well entertained by Helmdon school choir, who gave a concert of the carols they had sung in a recent combined primary schools' carol concert in Brackley.

An excellent tea was provided by committee members Carol Brookhouse, Barbara Buxton, Doreen England, Rosemary Gulliver, Pauline Payne and Sheila Somerton, and Christmas carols sung by all forty or so members present rounded off the afternoon.

Yet Another 90th Birthday, That Of Trudie Buxton - 2nd November 2008

Trudie Buxton opening her present, with Judy Cairns

It must be something in the air, because just a few days younger than Vera is Trudie Buxton, who celebrated her 90th birthday on 25th October. A lovely party was organised by the Drop-in Centre and Helmdon Fellowship, - the many well-wishers, the splendid cake and biscuits, the cards and the present, all were very much appreciated.

Memorandum: Trudie was born in Germany but has spent most of her adult life in Britain, - in London, Somerset, Oxford and the last 24 years in Helmdon, where she shares the home with her daughter and her ever-growing menagerie of horses, chickens and ducks, cat and sheep. Although she is a city girl at heart and loves fashion, jewellery and fine china, she has embraced the country life and enjoys her daily walk down the field with the views over the village to the church. The steep climb up keeps her fit and she also keeps active by playing bowls in Wappenham every week. What with her weekly visits to the Drop-In Centre and meetings of the Fellowship, and other village activities, there is always something going on in Helmdon for her to enjoy.

Vera McHardy's 90th Birthday Celebration - 2nd October 2008

Vera McHardy with birthday balloons

Vera McHardy, the oldest resident of Helmdon to have been born in the village, celebrated her 90th birthday on the 30th September. She has been an absolute stalwart for the village and a very good friend to so many people over the years. She has managed to stay in her home in Shortlands cottages and keep her independence, always remaining cheerful.

To mark her birthday a small party was held in the Reading Room during the Post Office hours, complete with a wonderful cake and a delicious buffet.

(Memorandum: Vera McHardy's parents were born in Helmdon and Vera herself has lived in Helmdon all her life, latterly in a cottage in Church Street, considered to be the oldest house in the village.

Born in 1917, she went to Helmdon Primary School. The redoubtable Miss Barnes was the headmistress. Vera says that Miss Barnes's discipline was of the best, you didn't argue with her, and the cane was in use for some child every day. She has loved poetry all her life and remembers that she was given a prize for a school essay which was about birds.

Vera left school at 13 and went to a housekeeping job in Brackley for a few years. Then for 21 years she helped Mrs Shrimplin at the post office, only giving up this work when she married Jack McHardy. He was Scottish, and they met when he came to work for Captain Lees at Falcutt House.

Later on she worked for nine years for Albert and Doris Brookhouse at the Bell, and continued her work at the pub for eleven years after Carol and David Brookhouse took over the licence. She was very happy with her job at the Bell, finishing when she reached retirement at the age of 65.)

Golden Jubilee Celebration - 20th September 2008

"Will Adams cut the ribbon with beautiful golden scissors"

Helmdon Fellowship celebrated Fifty years on Friday 29th August 2008.

To mark this occasion we have purchased a new seat to replace the old bench outside the Church gates.

Our special afternoon started with a service of dedication and official opening of the seat conducted by the Revd Will Adams.

Sixty members of the Fellowship and invited guests were present to see the Rector cut the ribbon with beautiful golden scissors.

From left to right: Lucy Gadd, Greg Davies, Winnie Woods,
Lucy Keen, the Revd Will Adams, Peter Payne and (seated)
Vera McHardy (the oldest Helmdon resident born in the village)

We then continued our celebrations in Church, starting with a sing-a-long of the Beatles song "With a little help from my friends", followed by afternoon tea.

The Fellowship would like to thank all the village organisations who contributed towards the cost of the seat which we hope will be used by people attending the Church and graveyard or walking through the village.

Carol Brookhouse
Chairman, Helmdon Fellowship.

Donkeys the Subject of the Last Meeting of the Winter - 13th April 2008

Have you thought about adopting a donkey?
Go to the Donkey Trust web site
(address below)

The 2008 winter programme of the Helmdon Fellowship ended on a "donkey note".

Mrs Maggie Taylor from the Donkey Trust gave an enthralling talk. Since its foundation in 1969 the Trust has cared for over 11,500 donkeys from the UK and Ireland. Some of these donkeys may have been neglected or mistreated, have retired from working on the beaches or perhaps their owners simply could not care for them any longer. Whatever the circumstances, no donkey is ever refused admission provided it has a certificate of fitness to travel.

We heard about Maggie's donkeys and how she came to work for the charity, the care and feeding of the thousands of donkeys at the Trust's sanctuaries in this country and abroad, the work done bringing special needs children together with the donkeys, and the educational programme with seaside donkeys. All of it was dedicated work, done by caring professionals aided enthusiastic volunteers, and Maggie's inspiring talk made us appreciate the scale of what was being done day by day, and it may well have inspired Fellowship members to "adopt a donkey".

For more information about the Elizabeth Svendsen Trust for Children and Donkeys go to www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk.

Visit to Highgrove - 31st August 2007

Highgrove House - home of Prince Charles
Highgrove House

On August 30th the Fellowship visited the beautiful private gardens of The Prince of Wales at Highgrove House, near Tetbury, Gloucestershire.

They were welcomed to Highgrove by a member of The Price of Wales's staff, who in turn introduced them to Michelle Phillips, their guide for an hour and a half's tour of the garden. She described with clarity and enthusiasm the cultural and sentimental significance of Highgrove's wide variety of rare plants, landscaping and ornamentation.

Highgrove is a unique garden, all planned and maintained in accordance with the organic principles of the estate. Of particular interest was the Wall of Gifts (a wall built to incorporate stone carvings given to the Prince of Wales over the years), the treehouse of the young Princes, the stump garden, and the lush walled vegetable garden where many of the group could have lingered longer. Also seen was the famed wild flower meadow designed with the advice of the late Miriam Rothschild, but not, alas, in full glory, since it was hay making time. At the end of the visit Fellowship members arrived at the side and back of the house, and this was a fitting climax - the rich planting and topiary work in the sundial and topiary gardens was stunning. A very welcome cup of tea and biscuits awaited in the Orchard Room before a browse in the estate shop.

Coffee at Stow-on-the-Wold, lunch at Tetbury, a tour of Highgrove and an evening meal at Chipping Norton - a really memorable, if slightly tiring, day!

Summer Garden Party - 20th August 2007

Air ambulance

The Air Ambulance costs over £1 million a year to run

On August 10th over forty Fellowship members and friends attended a garden party at the home of David and Carol Brookhouse in Field Way.

Volunteer speaker Marion Money, from the Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance, told her audience that the Coventry-based aircraft is the fastest aircraft in the UK. It is also the busiest, responding to around 110 emergency calls per month over an area of 1,800 square miles (reaching anywhere in Northamptonshire itself within fifteen minutes), and covering a population of 1,076,000 people. WNAA is a charity, which, like the Lifeboat Service, is not supported by government funds or the Lottery, and it costs the tremendous sum of £1.2 million a year to operate.

It was a beautiful day, and everyone enjoyed the excellent strawberry and cream tea. Perhaps best of all, however, was the fact that the proceeds of the afternoon, £200, were donated to WNAA.

Horses, A Secret Bunker, and Ice cream - 1st July 2007

Members admiring the Clydesdale mare and her foal.

Thursday, June 27th, was the date of the Fellowship's visit to Cheshire. First stop was the Cotebrook Shire Horse Centre near Tarporley. The owner took us on a guided tour of some of the animals kept there, such as the otters, polecats, and the large black pig and her new born piglets, before introducing us to a Clydesdale mare and her foal. The more intrepid of our members walked the fields to see some of the large Shire horses (which have won many

show prizes for the centre), and the foxes and owls, kept in captivity because they have been injured and wouldn't have been able to keep themselves alive in the wild.

Then, after lunch, it was on to the Secret Nuclear Bunker near Nantwich. For over fifty years this vast underground complex remained secret. Declassified in 1993, the 35,000 sq. ft bunker would have been the centre of Regional Government had nuclear war broken out. Members were fascinated by what they saw there, if a little horrified as they used their imaginations to consider what might have been had the Cold War not ended as it did.

Snugbury's Ice Cream parlour was the third stop, and refreshed by delicious Jersey ice cream, members began the journeyed home after a diverse and interesting day.

Colin, Friends and a little Jazz - 13th April 2007

Colin Nash and Friends
Colin Nash and Friends

The April meeting of the Fellowship ended with a wonderful jazz session. Colin Nash and Friends entertained thirty-five members at the end of what has been the best winter programme for some time. Colin did a quick tour through the history of jazz, from it beginnings in Orleans right through to the Blues and into modern times. The acoustics in the extension to the Reading Room were just right for the musicians, and their programme was just right for the occasion. Thank you, Colin, for managing to assemble a group to provide us with a most enjoyable afternoon.

A big thank you also to the committee - Carol Brookhouse, Ann Harman, Pauline Payne, Sheila Somerton, Doreen England, Rosemary Gulliver, Alan Watson and Wilf Forgham, for all the planning they do for the meetings (at which there are always delicious refreshments), and for arranging such interesting visits.

Edward Parry tells about Helmdon in the 70s - 10th March 2007

Edward Parry
Edward Parry

Edward Parry, who lived in the village in the 70s while teaching at Magdalen College School in Brackley, delighted 40 members and 5 visitors to the Fellowship meeting on March 9th when he journeyed from his home in Wales to talk about the buildings of Helmdon as they were 35 years ago, contrasting them with how they look now.

Amongst other examples he showed photographs of probably the oldest house in the village in the little close almost apposite the Reading Room, with its (now covered) cruck frame construction; Priory Farm, perhaps the next oldest building, which is possibly sixteenth century because of the shape and style of the chimney stack; Field View in Field Way which is a very fine example of its farmhouse type, and Long Acre, at the top of Wappenham Road, with its heavy but sophisticated decoration round what was once the front doorway.

Edward left his audience wanting more. His talk was fascinating, and we are grateful to him for his continuing interest in the village and for making the time to come and talk to us.

Fellowship Spring Lunch 2007 - 13th February 2007

Nearly two thirds of the Fellowship's large membership sat down to their Spring Lunch on February 10th.

This annual fixture is an event which goes back a very long way – the lunch used to be at Christmas time but one harsh winter it was postponed until the spring, and it turned into a Spring Lunch from then on. The meal this year was just as delicious as it always is, and, speaking on behalf of all those present, Jan Harrold thanked the committee for all their hard work.

The entertainment was by Rosie Walker and friend. Their miscellany of music, readings and poems on the theme of "love" (as St Valentine's Day is nearly with us), was much enjoyed, especially as many of the poems were by Pam Ayres, who is always entertaining.

West Country Tales - 15th November 2006

The Rev'd Will Adams
The Revd Will Adams.

The Rev'd Will Adams entertained the Fellowship on Friday, November 10th, with a West Country tale about Spedigue, Mabel and the pig, a story from his childhood in Devon.

Then the laughing stopped as he changed the tone of the afternoon by highlighting a more serious subject. He is asking for sponsorship to grow a moustache to raise money for Everyman, the cancer charity that aims to raise awareness of the importance of the early prevention of testicular and prostate cancer. Unhappily the incidence of this particular form of cancer has increased greatly over the last twenty years but most cases can be cured if caught at an early stage.

What About A Cuppa Then? - 20th August 2006

Lucy Keen and friends at the coffee party at the home of Trudie and Barbara Buxton, July 2006
Lucy Keen and friends at the coffee party at the home of
Trudie and Barbara Buxton, July 2006.

Every year Fellowship members open their homes and gardens for coffee mornings to raise funds. 2006 has been no exception, with gatherings at Alan and Eileen Watson's, Ann Smith's, and Trudie and Barbara Buxton's, all of whom must be thanked for their wonderful hospitality.

The climax to the summer programme came with a garden party at the home of David and Carol Brookhouse. Over forty members had an interesting awareness talk by the Northamptonshire Association for the Blind on macular degeneration, which might affect any one at any time. This was followed by a delicious cream tea, prepared and served by members of the committee. The very generous sum of £240 was raised for the Northamptonshire Association for the Blind and the Macular Disease Society, a marvellous result.

Fellowship Spring Lunch 2006 - 11th February 2006

Tom Livingstone entertains.
Tom Livingstone entertains.

Fifty members of the Fellowship sat down to their annual Spring Lunch on Saturday, February 11th. It took place in the Reading Room, which was beautifully decorated with spring flowers. Members would like to give a big thank you to the committee for all their hard work.

As usual, the meal was delicious. Then came the entertainment, a welcome return of Tom Livingstone with his electric guitar and keyboard, whose singing of Danny Boy again brought a catch to the throats of many present.

But it wasn't a case of "just another Spring Lunch". What was different was the growing number of "just retireds" who are given a warm welcome. We hope to see them at Fellowship meetings and outings over the summer.

"Ferry O'er the Mersey" Visit to Liverpool - 14th July 2005

The Royal Daffodil
The Royal Daffodil

On July 14th fifty members and friends of the Fellowship boarded a Jeff's Coach in Helmdon, and travelled to Liverpool to experience a crossing of the River Mersey on the Royal Daffodil ferry boat.

The visit was made that more memorable when the coach passed "Penny Lane" on its three-hour journey to the Pier Head landing stage at Liverpool Docks.

The party boarded the ferry, which cruised towards the Irish Sea, turning at Formby, and then came back down the river, stopping at Birkenhead on its way back to the Pier Head. During the cruise, the famous "Ferry over the Mersey" song was played and then a running commentary pointed out all the various docks and famous landmarks of Liverpool, and explained what happened to Liverpool during the 1939-45 war when it was the second most blitzed city in the UK.

On landing at the Pier Head the party made its way to the Albert Dock development where lunch and refreshments were obtained, and members variously made visits to the Tate Gallery, the Maritime Museum and the Beatles Exhibition - and some of course, even found the shops!

On the return journey the coach travelled through the Mersey Tunnel to Wallasey, and down through the Cheshire and Shropshire countryside to the M6 and the M40, arriving back in Helmdon at 8.30pm.

We knew the day would be long, but there were no hold-ups on the road, and Fellowship members thoroughly enjoyed what to some was a new experience - a visit to the often underestimated north-west of England.

Members Go Wild - 18th March 2005

Brian Webster.
Brian Webster.

Brian Webster visited the Fellowship on Friday, March 11th, to talk about wildlife around Helmdon. With nearly forty years experience as a naturalist-broadcaster, author and speaker, he was well placed to do so. A favourite lecturer at WEA classes, he first visited the Helmdon branch way back in 1976, and from time to time he has conducted walks along the viaduct and elsewhere around the village. However, this was Brian's first visit to the Fellowship, and he did not disappoint. He has extensive knowledge of the flora and fauna in Northamptonshire, and he illustrated his talk with wonderful slides which he had taken himself.

Afterwards Brian did a brisk trade selling wildflower seeds which he takes from plants in his own garden. We hope that the butterflies and bees know that Helmdon gardens have flowers that will be a good food source this summer!

Spring Lunch - 12th February 2005

Tom Livingstone on electric guitar.
Tom Livingstone on electric guitar.

Was it twelve months since we had our last Spring Lunch? It must have been, for again the Reading Room was beautifully decorated by Doreen England for Valentine's Day. Fifty members sat down to fruit cocktail, delicious roast beef (and all that goes with it), chocolate profiteroles or raspberry roulade, and cheese and biscuits.

Then followed the entertainment, and Tom Livingstone was excellent, playing the electric guitar accompanied by keyboard. He also has a beautiful singing voice, and his rendering of Danny Boy, requested by one of the guests, brought tears to the eyes. Tea and cakes were dispensed before it was time to go home.

On behalf of all the members, Ann Smith thanked the committee, Carol Brookhouse, Ann Harman, Pauline Payne, Rosemary Gulliver, Sheila Somerton, Doreen England, Alan Watson, and Audrey and Wilf Forgham, for a very enjoyable afternoon.

Partytime In The Reading Room - 10th December 2004

Carol Brookhouse making sure to keep Father Christmas happy.
Carol Brookhouse making sure to
keep Father Christmas happy.

Over forty members of The Fellowship thoroughly enjoyed their Christmas party. They were entertained first by a group of children from Helmdon School who sang Christmas carols with charm, and then Bee Aczel, keyboard at the ready, encouraged everyone to join in Christmas songs and asked for requests for more carols.

Then came a special tea, provided by hard-working committee members, which included the treat of sherry trifle! However, the treats did not stop there, because Father Christmas arrived, with presents for all. Heigh ho, it is all over for another year, but The Fellowship send their best wishes for a happy Christmas and a splendid 2005 to all in the village.

Summer Garden Party - 13th August 2004

Friday 13th August certainly wasn't unlucky for the Helmdon Fellowship members attending the annual Summer Garden Party at Greystones. A total of £220 has been donated to the Katherine House Hospice as a result of the bring & buy sale and the raffle.

The main aim of the Katherine House Hospice palliative care service is to support those people with life-threatening illnesses whose disease is not responsive to curative treatment. For more on this work and on the hospice generally please visit their web site.

The organisers would like to thank all those who attended and contributed to the amount raised.

All Aboard the Vineyard Express - 1st July 2004

On the train to the vineyard. In front, Peggy Smith and Sheila Somerton. Also in the photo: Ann Smith, Roger Russell and Jenny Saunders.
On the train to the vineyard. In front, Peggy Smith
and Sheila Somerton. Also in the photo: Ann Smith,
Roger Russell and Jenny Saunders.

The Fellowship much enjoyed their day when they visited the Gifford Hall Sweet Pea Farm in Suffolk on Thursday, July 1st.

There was time to admire the sweet peas and the extensive rose garden, and then members took their turn on the tractor train which tours the estate. After admiring the wild flower meadow which was in full bloom, the train driver talked about the pruning of the vines in the large vineyard.

The afternoon began with a fascinating talk on wine production given by the owner, followed, of course, by a delicious wine tasting which encouraged many of us to buy bottles to take home.

On the way back to Helmdon we stopped in the pretty village of Lavenham where we indulged in cream teas.

Magic Martin fools them all!
- 14th February 2004

Phil Drage, Jean Brookhouse and Jack Harman, amongst others enjoying the Spring Lunch
Phil Drage, Jean Brookhouse and Jack Harman, amongst others
enjoying the Spring Lunch

Valentine's Day was the theme of the Fellowship Spring lunch, with décor by Doreen England and flowers from Liz Humphries of Plentiful Pots.

Ann Harman and the Fellowship committee made their usual sterling effort to provide the Fellowship with a magnificent meal. Wine was offered to members, the starter was fruit compote, followed by succulent chicken in white wine sauce and seasonal vegetables, trifle or apple pie and cream. And, if that were not all, biscuits and cheese and coffee ended the meal. It was a great pity that numbers were down from last year but there was all the more for those who attended!

Magic Martin and Jan Harrold as magician's assistant
Magic Martin and Jan Harrold as magician's assistant

Magic Martin fooled us all. His entertainment was slick and professional and never have we seen Pauline Payne is such fits of laughter as she was reluctantly persuaded to act as Martin's assistant for part of the time. Mick Somerton suffered (for the second occasion it must be said) his watch being battered out of its life, but we all breathed a sigh of relief when it was eventually produced in mint condition.

We look forward to our next Get-together on Friday, March 16th, when Jean Scott will speak on The History of Medicine, in the Reading Room at 2.15pm.

If anyone would like to join the Fellowship it is open to all those over 60 and you will be made most welcome. Please contact any member of the committee.

Fellowship Outing with a Watery Theme - 15th September 2003

Members at the Sea-Life Museum.
Members at the Sea-Life Museum.

The Fellowship enjoyed a lovely summer day on September 16th as they cruised along Birmingham's canals. It was surprising to hear that the city has more canals than Venice and although some of the canal banks we saw are in a desolate state, a grand job has been done near the National Indoor Arena building where we embarked, and the waterside apartments and restaurants were greatly admired. After a leisurely lunch in the Brindley centre, we went to the Birmingham Sea-Life Museum, and marvelled at the exotic fish so clearly exhibited. Some of us timed our visit to see the otters being fed - others hung behind, fascinated by the sting rays and indeed the jelly fish, reviled because of its capacity to sting, but which in reality is a primitive, ethereal creature.

This was the last outing of the Fellowship summer programme. Our outings are open to all, so why not look at the noticeboards next summer and see if any of our visits are of interest to you?

Fellowship Spring Lunch - 8th February 2003

Versatile entertainer Max Wall
Versatile entertainer Max Wall

Max Wall, in the guise of Mike Gee, came to the Helmdon Fellowship Spring Lunch on Saturday, 8 February.

Always an occasion, sixty Fellowship members sat down to a "roast beef and five veg" lunch with Yorkshire puds and all the trimmings, and afterwards were royally entertained by Mike. He was billed as a vocalist, impressionist, comedian and cartoonist, and he certainly wowed us with his versatility.

Thank you Mike for a great performance, you were excellent, and thank you, committee, for all your hard work in decorating the room with a Spring theme, and preparing the delicious lunch (and tea!).

Fellowship Christmas Party - 13th December 2002

Santa surprises Fellowship members with a gift
Santa surprises Fellowship members with a gift

"The best tea we have ever had" was one verdict of a Fellowship member and it was certainly a delicious meal, with sandwiches, sausage rolls, vol au vents, mince pies, cakes, and trifle...

Phil Drage entertained us (we heard many a spicy story about our members, but whether they really happened is open to serious question!). But underlining all his jollity was a serious message, that brought by the Christmas story.

After tea, Father Christmas arrived, bringing gifts for everyone, and the afternoon was rounded off by the singing of carols.

Hmmm, Santa looks awfully familiar... I'm sure I've seen him around the village before...!

Visit to Bletchley Park -
11th May 2002

The Bletchley Park Guide shares his knowledge
The Bletchley Park Guide shares his knowledge

In May the Fellowship had a visit to Bletchley Park, home of the famous Enigma machine, the world's first programmable computer. Our guide, the chairman of the Bletchley Park Trust, was most knowledgeable, guiding us round the site and telling us what happened in those buildings as many thousands of dedicated personnel worked to break the enemy codes, something which played such a large part in our winning the Second World War.

As well as various re-creations of wartime happenings at the site, there were plenty of other attractions for us to see such as the museum of obsolete and vintage computers, the toy museum and what interested many of us the most, a museum dedicated to Winston Churchill memorabilia.

In all, a very pleasant and informative trip.

Fellowship Coffee Morning - 24th April 2002

Judy Cairns
Hostess, Judy Cairns

The Helmdon Fellowship hold regular coffee mornings where members and friends can gather together, enjoy each other's company for a few relaxing hours, and raise money towards other Fellowship activities.

For Spring 2002 it was the turn of Judy Cairns to host the coffee morning and members gathered at her home on Wednesday, 24 April.

The proceeds of the morning, principally the raffle and bric a brac (kindly donated by members), raised nearly £100 for Fellowship funds.

The next coffee morning will be held on July 24th at Jan and Cec Harrold's home.

If you would be interested in joining Helmdon Fellowship, which is open to any residents who are retired and/or over sixty, please contact any member of the Fellowship committee.

Fellowship Spring Lunch 2002 - 9th February 2002

Preparing the Fellowship Spring Lunch
Left to right: Ann Harman, Doreen England, Rosemary Gulliver, Sheila Somerton, Pauline Payne.

The Helmdon Fellowship Spring lunch took place in the Reading Room on Saturday 9 February.

Sixty-five members sat down to an excellent lunch prepared by committee members.

After-dinner mints and coffee were followed by a talk by Susanna Marshall on "Valentines Day Myths and Legends", with afternoon tea rounding off an excellent occasion.

Fellowship Spring Lunch 2001 - 10th February 2001

Fifty-five members of the Fellowship sat down to an excellent three-course meal , followed by coffee and mints, in the Reading Room on Saturday 10 February. The room looked very spring like, with plants supplied by Liz Humphrey of Plentiful Pots.

Members herald the Spring with a lunch in the Reading Room

After the meal there was entertainment by magician Paul Kybert. It was as difficult as ever to comprehend how the card tricks were done. Paul had several helpers but notable among them was Mick Somerton, who thought it all a hilarious joke and dissolved the audience into laughter. A ring, a watch, and a £20 note of Jan Harrold's all went missing, and we were amazed where they were eventually found! Tea and cakes were served after the magical display.

Jan Harrold thanked the committee for all their hard work. The kitchen staff, namely Ann Harman, Carol Brookhouse, Pauline Payne, Sheila Somerton, Ann Smith, Ann Austin, Doreen England, Rosemary Gulliver and Audrey Harwood, not forgetting wine waiter Alan Watson, had all played their part in providing a "good afternoon out".

Coffee Morning - 25th January 2001

The coffee morning at Carol and David Brookhouse's on Wednesday 25 January was very successful, raising £140 for Fellowship funds. Thanks to all those who attended, to the committee who helped, but most of all to David and Carol for allowing Fellowship members to gather in their home.

Christmas Meeting - 8th December 2000

Helmdon School entertained the Fellowship on 8 December in the Reading Room. A good audience was entertained by the school choir, brass ensemble and the recorder group. Fellowship members were particularly impressed by the saxophone soloist, who was determined to play his music the best that he could. The concert finished with the singing of traditional carols by all present, who included the head teacher, Sue Blackburn, and her colleague Rose Darwin, the Rev John Roberts ( who teaches the recorder group), and Lee Sparrow who acts as accompanist. A Christmas tea was provided.

The Fellowship thoroughly enjoyed their afternoon, and thank the school for the great entertainment.

Bob Hodson Talk & Fellowship AGM - 13th October 2000

The first meeting of the Autumn on Friday 13 October attracted over thirty members of the Fellowship.

Bob Hodson giving a talk to the Helmdon Fellowship

Bob Hodson, who used to be postman in Helmdon and who now works in Brackley, gave a most interesting talk on the Royal Mail. After a short history of the service, he recounted what happens to a letter when it is put in a post box locally. We heard that all the post goes first to Northampton, to be sorted by a vast machine in a very short space of time, and it was interesting to hear what happens to those letters which are illegible or have the incorrect postcodes. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed Bob's talk.

Annual General Meeting - 13th October 2000

Tea was followed by the Annual General Meeting. The Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer reported a very successful year. The main business was to pass the new constitution, which was duly done. To view the new constitution click here.

The committee were re-elected en-bloc, and post holders remain the same.

Summer Tea - August 2000

At the home of Carol and David Brookhouse (pictured here) on a hot summer afternoon in August 2000, over forty members and friends enjoyed an excellent tea. The event was very successful, raising over £100 for the Brackley Cottage Hospital.

Since then, members and friends enjoyed a coffee morning at the home of Alan and Eileen Watson, with around £126 being raised for Fellowship funds. The Fellowship also had a presence at the Carnival with a bric-a-brac stall and a treasure hunt game. From these two attractions, approximately £100 went to Carnival funds and £100 to Fellowship funds, so committee members who helped on the day were well pleased with their efforts. In mid September Ann Smith invited the Fellowship to her home for coffee, and again a wonderful total was reached - over £130 for funds.

There was almost a full coach of members and friends for the last visit of the season, to Moreton on the Marsh market. Bargains were had by all, and luckily the rain held off for all to enjoy the Cotswold scenery.