Clive Boon is one of seven committee members for the Woodford and District Centre of the National Trust. That committee needs more help if the 54-year-old centre is to continue its programme of talks and trips
Some years ago, an article appeared in the South Woodford Village Gazette entitled Coasting Along Nicely. That article gave some insight into the history of the Woodford and District Centre of the National Trust and how it was still flourishing after 50 years, albeit with membership not as great as in 1985 (which was our peak year with 1,010 members).
The genesis of our centre was a coffee morning held on 7 December 1967 at 30 Snakes Lane, when it was decided membership of the proposed centre would cost five shillings. The first meeting took place on 12 February 1968 in the Hawkey Hall with a speaker from central office. In the course of our 50-year history, the centre has been served by just three secretaries, and in that time has contributed over £200,000 to various National Trust projects.
Despite the highs of our membership in the eighties, prior to COVID, we would still rejoice in several hundred members and visitors to our monthly talks and trips. Now, after the first appalling pandemic in most of our lifetimes, where we have all suffered illnesses and lockdowns, we are trying to regroup. In 2020 and 2021, we did our best to stay in touch with members via emails and by hosting three or four Zoom talks for those who were able to take part online.
The re-opening of our centre last September with a presentation about the National Gardens Scheme in Essex (on a gloriously sunny day) was a great day for us all, with a packed audience at All Saints’ Church hall. That was followed by October’s meeting at Woodford Memorial Hall with a talk about the historic Waltham Abbey Church. It felt like a revival of community spirit!
The trips we organise are very popular as well, evident from the full coaches that depart. Recent destinations include the National Army Museum (fantastic) and Polesden Lacey, an Edwardian house in Surrey. And excursions to St Paul’s Cathedral and the Secret Gardens of the City are planned for 2022.
Our meetings, and indeed all the trips, are supported by a small committee. With some lost due to natural ‘movement’ and several past retirement age, that committee has dwindled in size, and now consists of only seven people: chairman, honorary secretary, treasurer, membership secretary, London visits coordinator, publicity member and minutes secretary. At our last committee meeting, it was reluctantly stated that unless we get new support, then the awful conclusion would be our centre would have to close. That will be decided at our AGM on 6 April. So please, if this interests you, do join us. We only ask for a few more to join our committee; the work is not onerous, it is interesting and enjoyable! We really do need you. Our centre is a marvellous community base. It must not close!
For more information on the Woodford and District Centre of the National Trust, call 07774 164 407