Supporting the War Effort

Village fund-raising during the Great War

By John Crawforth

Up to 40 men from Meldreth saw active service in the Great War and while they did so their courage and dedication to duty was not forgotten by the people of the village who remained behind.

Accounts in the Herts and Cambs Reporter appeared throughout the war years of the efforts made to raise funds in support of those fighting for their country. In August 1916 the Reporter carried an account of a very successful jumble sale held on the lawn at the School House which raised the sum of £20 1s 0d to help those who had been wounded, the money being distributed between Melbourn and Meldreth Nursing Association, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Shepreth Auxiliary Hospital, Royston Cottage Hospital and Royston Soldiers' Hospital.

Photo:Meldreth School c. 1910

Meldreth School c. 1910

Postcard supplied by Kathryn Betts

"Articles for sale were generously sent by Melbourn and Meldreth people and there were a large number of buyers. In addition to the sale there were various competitions. Mrs Jacklin was the winner in the Doll's Name-Guessing Competition and she was also the lucky one in the Cake Weight-Guessing Competition. The number of sweet pea stems guessing was won by Miss Wing....and Mrs Handscombe won a basket of potatoes. The Misses Wood gave several dances and songs were sung by Messrs Gus Hale and Ward. Mr Cooper kindly played for dancing later in the evening."
The Shepreth Auxiliary Hospital benefited, too, from many individual acts of generosity and a report of September 1st in the same year records gifts from a number of Meldreth people including "Beef Steak from C.U. Palmer ... several collections of eggs, per Mr Aldridge... and beans from Miss Wedd."

Photo:The Auxiliary Hospital, Shepreth Village Hall, First World War

The Auxiliary Hospital, Shepreth Village Hall, First World War

Daily Mail online, January 2011

On 6th July 1917, a concert, arranged by Miss Marr, was given in the school, also in aid of the Shepreth hospital. The Reporter records that "the room was filled to its utmost capacity with an appreciative audience, and encores were numerous. Miss Webber's dances were delightful, and Miss Winnie Green's recitations deserve much praise, whilst Mr Murray Brookes' contributions were a feature of the evening. An invitation was sent to the convalescent soldiers, and all who were able attended. After paying expenses the sum of £8 was realised. Miss Marr desires to thank all the kind friends who assisted in the concert and in other ways helped to raise this amount for such a deserving cause."

On 26th October of the same year the Reporter recounted that a sale of work organised jointly with the people of Melbourn had realised £22 10s and, together with other fund-raising efforts, the sum of £42 10s had been raised, to go the Red Cross Society. In opening the event, Dr S Williams of Meldreth "spoke about the increasing needs of the Red Cross Society and the splendid work it had done in all the countries affected by the War." There was an appeal for continued work to be done in helping the sick and wounded men.

Even after the war had run its course, fund-raising efforts continued. On 14th March 1919, the same paper carried a report of money raised for the Meldreth Soldiers' Fund in 1918. "It was felt at Christmas time that it was a privilege to send some gift to Meldreth men who were abroad fighting for homes and country. Also it seemed right that those who were in England and those who had been discharged from the army should not be forgotten. Five ladies, Mesdames Williams, Harvey and McElroy, Misses Chamberlain and Barlow kindly consented to collect in the village and the sum of £23 5s 7d was gathered ... It was thought advisable to send a money gift, accordingly 60 postal orders value 7s 3d each were bought and sent, with a letter signed by the vicar, Rev. P. Harvey, to our brave men."

This page was added by John Crawforth on 27/03/2014.

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