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The Helmdon Fellowship - Activities


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 December 2008




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.


Coffee in Cross Lane - 11th June 2008

From left to right:  Douglas Hadfield and Pauline Butler. 

Jan Harrold, Alan Watson, Eileen Watson, Cec Harrold

(in front), Audrey Forgham and David Brookhouse.

Ann Smith is chatting to the Revd Will Adams at the back.


Fellowship members gathered in the house and lovely garden of Trudie and Barbara Buxton in Cross Lane for coffee and chat on  Wednesday,  June 11th.


There was a bring & buy stall, ably manned by Doreen England, Sheila  Somerton was in charge of the raffle, and other committee members Carol Brookhouse and  Pauline Payne made sure that everyone always had a cup of coffee and a biscuit.


A total of £118 80p was raised for Fellowship funds.


The Fellowship wish to thank Trudie and Barbara Buxton for allowing them to use their house and garden for the event.

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. 


                                click for Fellowship activities prior to 2007

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