"Such a group could be of great value to the Parish"
- an extract of the Vicar's letter by Rev John Byrom in the Parish Magazine, November 1961.
A founding member of the Friday Club, Ann Hewitt, reflects on the group's first sixty years*...
To appreciate how Friday Club came into being, you have to look at Cheadle Hulme in the 1950s.
Cheadle Hulme was at that time a rural community with many farms throughout the district. During the 1950s changes were great – farms were sold, animals disappeared and houses sprang up all over the area. This brought many new people to the area – many young couples with children, others newly married. Three housing estates grew within the parish. On the estates husbands went off to work, as did the wives in some families, but many had young children and stayed at home. Life for them could be quite lonely.
The new residents found that the existing three ladies groups, the Ladies Fellowship the Working Party and the Mothers Union did not meet their needs. In June 1961 the following notice appeared in the Parish Magazine
“An attempt will be made to start a Young Wives Group in the autumn. Further announcements will be made in due course.”
Following discussions at a meeting that November the membership was widened to include the unmarried and the new group was to be known as the “All Saints Young Women’s Society”. At its first meeting the Society shed this highly cumbersome name in favour of the Friday Club and adopted three aims with unanimous agreement. They were
- To promote and foster friendship between members.
- To deepen their understanding of the faith, and
- Its application to the problems of contemporary society
These remain our aims today.
By February 1962 the programme of meetings was established – at 8 o’clock on the first and third Friday evenings and a communion service for members on a Thursday morning once a month.
Friday Club Activities
For many years our Vicar started the year with a talk in January and the Curate, if we had one, spoke to us in September. We had serious talks by ministers of other churches, missionary representatives, speakers from charities, lawyers, estate agents. We enjoyed wide ranging demonstration from health and cookery experts. Jewellery making and making corn dollies with the famous Ray Rush, a farmer from Siddington who came dressed as a country yokel, complete with a mouse in his bag of corn!
We had ‘do-it-yourself’ evenings to help us with home maintenance. We played charades, ‘What’s my Line’ and ‘Give us a Clue’.
We enjoyed holiday film shows, speakers spoke on the natural world, music, history and art.
There have been regular features such as recipe evenings (in the days when we all baked!). Cheese and wine nights, beetle drives and meals out. We’ve been lost on treasure hunts, put on fashion shows, held jumble sales and a huge silent auction to raise money for the new church vestry.
Flower festivals, a historical pageant, trips to the theatre, musicals and the youth performance at Hulme Hall College have all played a part in ours activities.
In 1982 an event took place which put Friday Club ‘on the map’. We were asked to perform at the Harvest Tea and became fairies for the night as we presented ‘Nobody loves a fairy when she’s 40’. For the next ten years we performed as bathing belles, St Trinian’s schoolgirls, Hawaiian dancers, elves in an enchanted garden, recalled D Day, went on our ‘Summer Holiday’ and my personal choice the Roaring 20s.
Today, some of the activities we enjoyed before can no longer continue because of the members’ age and safety and because of transport difficulties and cost. We continue to enjoy speakers on a wide variety of topics as well as the occasional ‘do it-yourself’ meetings – the latest being a celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. We have occasional trips and outings twice a year for lunch.
We have moved our meetings from Friday evenings to Friday afternoons. Many members did not wish to venture out at night, especially in the winter.
The Covid pandemic closed us for the best part of two years. We lost some of our long serving members during this time, but since re-opening we’ve welcomed several new ones.
So, Friday Club continues. Our members do their best to support each other through good and difficult times and everyone supports the church activities.
*Parts of this piece have been taken from Ann's talk at the 50th Anniversary service in 2012.