The 19th AGM of The Badsey Society was held on Friday 12th February 2021 via Zoom because of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic; 59 members were in attendance, representing over a quarter of the membership. The same officers were re-elected: Maureen Spinks as Chairman, Shirley Tutton as Secretary and John Sharp as Treasurer. The same Committee was re-elected: Will Dallimore, Ian Gibson, Tom Locke, Jane Neill, Alan Tutton, Gill Woods. At the end of the business section, the winner of the Tony Jerram Award was announced as Mary Dore.
Thanks to Alan Tutton for co-ordinating the Zoom arrangements and to Will Dallimore for providing film footage of Badsey which was shown before and after the AGM.
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Chairman’s Report 2021 – Review of 2020
40 members attended last year’s AGM on 7th February; the same officers and committee were elected. The Tony Jerram Award was presented to Keith and Sheila Taylor for their work in keeping the memorial fountain in the High Street looking tidy and colourful all year round. In the words of one of the people who nominated them, “their selfless dedication to the memorial is a joy to everyone. It is always kept immaculate with beautiful flowers bought by Keith & Sheila from their own funds and which they refuse to be recompensed for.” Barbara Jerram presented them with the award. Was it really just a year ago when we could be so close to each other!
In early March, a Members’ Evening was held at The Pub in a Club when Will Dallimore, Pat Morcombe and Brian Smith kick-started the evening by chatting about Badsey in the 1950s. But then that was it. As we all know, the country then went into lockdown a few weeks later and we had to cancel events – no Richard Phillips Memorial lecture, no Test Pits Project, no Midsummer Walk, no Flower Show. The church had to close its doors and the Spar witnessed queues outside when only a few people were allowed in at any one time.
But it didn’t take long for our members to jump in action. In April, Will and John Dallimore began keeping us entertained with their weekly Back Garden films which were first shown on our Facebook page. It was in April and May that our Facebook members grew exponentially, as they say. All the Dallimore films have now been collected together in one place on the website. This is the first of their films.
Now until last year, you probably thought, like I did, that “to zoom” meant to move quickly with a loud humming of buzzing sound”. But we soon learnt another way of zooming. Here we are at our very first Zoom Committee Meeting in May.
On Friday 8th May, a beautiful, sunny day at the height of lockdown, the nation and our village came together for the commemoration of VE Day. Whilst there could be no organized Badsey Society event, many members decorated their gardens. Here’s some of our members enjoying themselves – Alan and Shirley Tutton, Maureen Davies, Pete Addis, Derek and Sylvia Coupe.
Seventy-five years ago, a young Terry and Pat Sparrow attended a street party in Brewers Lane, at the end of the Second World War. We don’t have any photos of that occasion in 1945, but here’s Terry and Sandra and Pat and Judy at Nos 36 & 38 Brewers Lane in 2020. The bunting was also out at Aldington at Arthur Plant’s home and at Wickhamford, John and Margaret Newbury were getting into the spirit.
In May, The Badsey Society had a brief 50 seconds of fame when it was mentioned on BBC Radio 4 in a programme called Pandemic 1918. This was a three-part series in which virologist Professor John Oxford looked at the spread and impact of the 1918-1919 Spanish flu. Despite massive advances in health care and medical science, the parallels to today are stark. So how did The Badsey Society come to get a mention? A researcher from Made in Manchester Productions, one of the leading independent radio production companies in the UK, had discovered the Sladden letters on our website, in which there are a number of references to the flu. In particular, they wanted to dramatise an extract from a letter written by Mela Brown Constable to Cyril Sladden on 26th June 1918, which aired in Episode 2. Here is an excerpt:
Before anyone says anything, Mela was in the Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps but, under the pressure of being interviewed, I couldn’t for the life of me remember the correct new name and ended up saying Queen Mary’s Women’s Army Corps.
In Episode 3, there were extracts from two of the letters written by Dr Arthur Sladden, in which he was critical of the government’s response to the pandemic. I’m sure Arthur would have strong views on the current pandemic if he were alive today. Here is the excerpt:
A summer event should have been celebrating the centenary of the Recreation Ground, which was opened on 15th May 1920 by Captain Cecil Hunt, the son of a former Vicar. Instead, thanks to the hard work of John Sharp, a special centenary booklet was produced which was given to all members. A centenary information board was also being designed, about which we will see later.
In August, we had the first of our Zoom lectures. As far as I know, we were one of the first local history groups in the area to venture into this field. Many thanks to Alan Tutton for putting himself forward to give the first Zoom lecture. This was a fascinating talk about the ship wrecks that can be seen on the lower reaches of the River Severn and also about the remains of a bridge which collapsed in 1960 when two river craft collided resulting in a massive explosion. As a result of the talk, several members went to Purton to see the wrecks for themselves.
2020 was also the centenary of the first Council houses to be built in Badsey. In September, I gave a talk entitled “Happy Birthday, Synehurst”. Many of the original tenants remained living there for the rest of their lives, and some houses saw long associations with the same family, with tenancies being taken on by children and grandchildren. As a birthday present for each of the current occupants, they were given a copy of Aldington and Badsey: Villages in the Vale, as it includes a chapter by Will Dallimore about council housing.
In October, Alan and Shirley Tutton ran a very successful workshop about reading old documents. This culminated in a collaborative transcription of the 17th-century will of William Forrest, yeoman of Badsey. This will solved a little mystery that I had known about for some time. Many years ago, Sheila Sage of Mill Lane had shown me a plaque in her cottage with the initials AF and WF and the year 1684. From various clues in the will, this led me to be able to tell Sheila that her house had once belonged to William and Alice Forrest.
Also in October, we had the official unveiling of the Recreation Ground centenary information board. I hope you have all had a chance to see it in situ. Brian Smith, whose great-grandfather sold the land, performed the unveiling. John Sharp provided the text for the board, and Ian Gibson did the design. Gary Bailey and Mike Tennant from Badsey Parish Council were also present, as the Council very kindly provided half the funding for the board.
November’s talk was by an outside speaker: Sarah Moody of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. She gave a fascinating talk about the history and work of the Commission which works across the globe to ensure that the 1.7 million men and women from the Commonwealth who lost their lives in the two World Wars are not forgotten.
Our December talk was given by Shirley Tutton, entitled, “From Aldington to Ohio – the story of Annie Bell and William Marsh”. Nearly 50 people from the Badsey area are known to have emigrated to America in the last quarter of the 19th century – and specifically to the Auburn region of Ohio. Shirley told us the story of Annie Bell (daughter of William Bell, the farm bailiff at Aldington Manor) who emigrated to America in 1885 with her new husband. As well as Annie’s personal story, Shirley outlined the reasons why so many people may have left the Vale, what conditions were like on board ship and what it was like when they arrived in America.
Our final talk before the AGM was “On the Way to London: Badsey & Evesham Roads” by David Ella. His talk focused on Willersey Road, which was unexpectedly a main road to London for over 50 years. We also heard about Badsey's Anglo Saxon "Road to the Woods" and a Roman Military Way through Wickhamford. Since August, attendance at our Zoom lectures had been slowly increasing, but for our January talk, we achieved a record-breaking 65 people. Let’s hope this trend continues for our next series of lectures.
During the course of the year, several of our members have sadly died, but all well surpassed their three score years and ten. Michael Barnard died in March, aged 91. He was one of the earliest people to join the Society in 2002, being membership No 11. Michael, who came from a well-known market gardening family, was well known throughout the Vale for his sketches which appeared frequently in The Journal and Vale Magazine. Four months later, Pam also died, aged 91.
Anna Tucker died in April, aged 96. I’m afraid I don’t have a photo of Anna, but this shows an excerpt from her life story which is on the website. Anna, a German by birth, moved to Badsey in early married life and immersed herself in village life. She joined the Society in its foundation year, 2002, and remained a member until moving to Evesham. In December, we said goodbye to Gordon Lashford, aged 90, who had been a member of the Society since its foundation year. Most of you will know Gordon as the voice of the Flower Show. Finally, Arthur Plant died in January, aged 93, followed a week later by his wife, Dolly. Arthur was only a member of the Society for a year, but he was the recipient of the Tony Jerram Award in 2015.
Since the coronavirus pandemic caused the world to shut down in March, our website contributors have been working overtime: over a hundred new articles have been added to the Badsey website. The easiest way to see what’s new is by going to the Home page and clicking on the various links.
You will see from the logo on the left-hand side that The Badsey Society website won a website competition. We are members of an organisation called One-Place Studies which, as its name suggests, is for Societies and individuals which concentrate at looking at the history of one place. It has members worldwide. This was the inaugural year of the competition and we were honoured to be the first recipients, which enabled us to display this badge on our website. Thanks to all the people who have contributed in one way or another to the website. We always welcome well-written articles from new contributors.
You will see that, despite all the difficulties of the past year, it has been another good year for The Badsey Society. We have a large membership and an extremely healthy bank balance, so we look forward to more successes in the year ahead. I would like to end by thanking the Committee for all their hard work and contributions – it’s a real team effort, which is why it seems to work so well.
Maureen Spinks, February 2021
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We have had some lovely comments from members:
- “Thank you for your commitment and hard work on behalf of the society. I, and I imagine many others would say the same, that in spite of the lockdown and separation from each other, you couldn't have done more to bring the meetings to us and keep our interest alive. It has been a great boon to many who have loved having the company, in spite of being virtually housebound.”
- “A credit to the officers for achieving so much in the chaos that was 2020.”
- "I do like these Zoom meetings and seeing the Society members online."
- “Informative annual review and great wrap up! Enjoyed the meetings, connecting with everyone.”
- “Excellent meeting, a credit to you all.”
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Here is a Powerpoint presentation of the Report: