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Pontefract Letters Page

PONTEFRACT HOSPICE GARDEN PARTY

ADDED 9 FEBRUARY 2006

In your history of the Pontefract Hospice, mention was made of the first Hospice Garden Party in The Priory garden. This was only one of many such events held in our garden. My grandmother used to organise a 'working party' of ladies, mainly from St. Giles church, who used to call down every Thursday afternoon and sit sewing such items as table mats and cloths, ladies handkerchiefs, pillow cases and other items that were put on sale together with homemade cakes on an afternoon in the late summer. The funds were used to support a church in India which my grandmother paid for as a memorial to Grandfather Holmes. Even after most of the ladies were unable to come she used to send an annual donation.

My mother took on the role of organiser later and there were bazaars for the church and later for the St. Giles Sunday School, ATC, Guides etc. - the organising being taken over by my wife Sheila, assisted by our three daughters.

One year we had a water splash which drowned the sitter when the ball hit the right button. Our youngest daughter took on the role of being 'drowned'. We have had pony rides and a small steam train running in to the wood. Another attraction was tours of the dugout and there would be a constant queue waiting to go down and hear how we slept down there when the war first started. However, when we were actually bombed we were standing on the staircase on the way to the cellar for shelter. We've had brass bands and also boat races, where small wooden boats were pulled by a string over the lawn, the winner being awarded a small percentage of the take.

My wife has taken an interest in the National Children's Home and she organised a garden party for its aid. We had so much bric-a-brac left that she decided to do a car boot sale which raised another hundred pounds or so. There still being some items left we got about another 20 more from a dealer who cleared the remainder. Since then we have done more car boot sales usually helping daughter Ruth Walton, and raised quite considerable sums for charity. Perhaps the most difficult was going to Leeds Wholesale Market at 6am in total darkness (not having thought to take a torch) and setting up a stall while early bargain hunters prowled round with torches!

John O.E. Holmes
9 February 2006


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