Great Horwood Victoria Benefit Club Richard Edmans
Victoria Benefit Club Feast Day, c.1910
The Victoria Benefit Club was founded at the suggestion of the then Rector, Simon Adams, in 1846. Mr Adams was appointed club president and successive rectors held the presidency up until 1948 when the club closed, this being the year the National Health Service started. There was a women’s branch. When this started is uncertain.
The Club was formed to help village members who were unable to work. Members paid into the club, and received financial relief from the club if they were later unable to work due to illness or injury. The amount members paid each week is unknown but, towards the end of its life, members received 8s (40p) a week if they were unable to work. Nora Reeve remembers going to the then secretary Mr William Edmans to collect the money for her parents.
A Club Feast Day was held annually on the second Saturday in June. The church bells awoke everyone at 5.30 am. They were rung again at 9 am and, in early days, twice more. There was a roll call of members followed by a procession, led by the village band, to the church for a service at 11.00 am. After the service, the club banner was paraded around the village ending up at the village hall for the annual dinner. This was just for the male members of the club. The women’s section had a tea later in the day.
The banner that was paraded was very large and stretched across the road, requiring two bearers to carry it. During its life, the club had at least two banners. The wording on the two banners of which photographs survive were on the earlier one ‘GREAT HORWOOD VICTORIA BENEFIT CLUB’ and on the later one ‘GREAT HORWOOD VICTORIA MENS AND WOMENS FRIENDLY SOCIETY’. If I remember correctly, as I helped to take the banner to pieces for my parents to use as a bedspread, the main colour was royal blue and the lettering was yellow.
Great Horwood Victoria Benefit Club banner on display at the 1914 Club Feast Day