|The Rushden Echo and Argus, 5th December, 1941, transcribed by Jim Hollis
Friends of the Children
Rushden Fund’s Constant Work
New Shoes for 890 Boys and Girls
Rushden Boot and Clothing Fund (writes a correspondent) has been in existence since October, 1939, and from that time it has continued to function quietly and unceremoniously, but at the same time energetically, to alleviate the needs of those children, both local and evacuee, whose circumstances have deteriorated on account of war conditions.
A criticism that has often been levelled at the committee is that very little of the work has been made public. This policy of non-advertising has been purposely adopted so that those who have benefited need have no fear of a pointing finger.
The committee has held meetings regularly each month at the British Legion Hall, and in this connection appreciation must be expressed to the local British Legion officers, who have lent the room without charge.
No doubt the majority of your readers will remember that the fund was inaugurated to watch over the welfare, particularly with reference to clothing and footwear, of (1) local children whose fathers are serving in H.M. Forces, (2) local children whose home circumstances have degenerated on account of the war, and (3) evacuees. These three groups’ interests have been closely watched, and, where there has been need, immediate help has been given.
It cannot be denied that in the early stages the claims of visiting children were heavy, but assistance for Rushden children was by no means negligible. Thanks to the well-known generosity of the local public, who provided money and a large quantity of second-hand but serviceable clothing, hundreds of children living in the town have been fitted out.
Shoes and Clothing
It may surprise the public to be informed that up to date 890 pairs of new shoes have been distributed to needy children. It must not be imagined that all these have been given free of cost, for in a large number of cases payment has been received. Hundreds, nay thousands of articles of clothing have also been distributed, and here tribute must be paid to a willing band of ladies who have worked hard in making and reconditioning garments. The total expenditure of the fund is just over £580, and practically the whole of this sum has been spent locally.
Since the beginning of this year the evacuees’ claims on the fund have largely decreased, mainly on account of the institution of a Government scheme which came into operation on January 1st, and which is operated by the committee in co-operation with ladies of the W.V.S. However, the demands of local children have increased and are expected to increase still further, particularly as the later age groups are being called up for service. It is the committee’s firm intention and definite aim that no child of a serving man shall suffer in the matter of footwear and clothing while his or her father is absent on duty with the Forces.
There are two phases of the work of which the committee can be justly proud the shoe repair scheme, and the work at the Clothing Depot, where many ladies have toiled unceasingly for the benefit of the children. Much valuable work has been done here by ladies who have at all times been most willing to lend a hand. Large supplies of wearing apparel have been received from the American Red Cross and other organisations, while much has been handed in by local working parties.
Up to the beginning of this month nearly 5,000 pairs of shoes have been repaired, and receipts for these have reached a high total. This scheme has been made possible by the practical generosity of Rushden manufacturers and out-of-town business gentlemen who have provided leather free of charge. In the early days of the scheme many local manufacturers volunteered to undertake the repair of shoes, and this was kept up for some time until, owing to difficulties of labour, due to the calling up of operatives, the majority were reluctantly compelled to give up.
It must be stated, however, that a few firms have continued this good work right up to the present time, and their help is greatly appreciated. Just over eighteen months ago difficulty was experienced with regard to a flood of repairs, but a local operative came to our assistance and has rendered valuable aid ever since.
Much more could be revealed of the work of the Boot and Clothing Fund, but it is felt that enough has been stated to show that Rushden can be rightly proud of the work that has been done.
Outside its real sphere of work the committee on two occasions at Christmas time has been able to arrange, along with other organisations, some form of entertainment for evacuees. Money for this purpose was received from London, and there was no call on local funds.
This year it is hoped that not only will the visiting children be entertained, but that all the children of the town will be catered for. The cost of the evacuees’ entertainment, will be met by a substantial amount which has already been received from the L.C.C. and which will be solely used for the evacuees. Arrangements have practically been completed, and it is anticipated that all the children over infant age, both local and evacuee, will be entertained at a local cinema, which has been generously placed at the disposal of the committee. Supplies of sweets, etc., are almost unobtainable, but it is expected that all children of serving men and evacuees will be the fortunate recipients of a bag of…and a bag of….
With regard to the infants, a contribution will be made to the school parties which the headmistresses hope to arrange at the end of the present term. The cost as regards local children will be met by a handsome donation from a well-known local organisation which is noted for its good work, and other sources.
Most recent tribute to the work is a letter received by Ald. C. W. Horrell, J.P., from Mr. E. Gwyn Thomas, Director of Education for Walthamstow, who writes: “It is a great pleasure to my committee to hear of the kindness and help being shown to our children by the people of Rushden, and I have been directed to convey to you, as chairman of the fund, the committee’s sincere thanks for all the good work which is being done in Rushden. In this connection they desire also that you express their thanks to Mr. W. A. E. Sherwood, the hon. Secretary, and Mr. A. H. Whitton, the hon. Treasures of the fund.”