Although I was christened in St. Margaret’s Church, at the age of 2 and a half I was taken by my sister to Wesley Hall to join the Sunday School. (My Mother had been brought up as an Anglican but thought the Methodists were more friendly.)
My sister joined the Brownies in 1943 and I wanted to join as well. Miss Austen was the Sunday School Superintendent and Brown Owl and every time I saw her I asked “When can I join the Brownies?” To shut me up, I was accepted at the age of 6 and half and loved every minute of it. (My father died when I was 7 and a half in May 1946; he so enjoyed ‘spit and polish night’ when he inspected our uniforms before we left home.)
My first appearance on stage was in 1945 (probably for a concert to celebrate the end of the war). I was dressed in a borrowed khaki coloured forage cap, battle dress and pleated skirt. I marched up and down singing ‘Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag’ and the kit bag was so light it was weighted with hymn books!
At the age of 12 I asked Mrs. Dora Hogger if I could be a Sunday School Teacher. She accepted me and I became a trainee for a year, with the youngest class. The same year I was accepted into Church Membership.
We had a very good Junior Church Choir, led by Mr. and Mrs. Clifton and most of us were in their Bible Class. I remember very well going to their house in Flaxton Road to make crackers for the Church Christmas Bazaar.
There was always so much going on in the church. On Saturday evening we held the Youth Club and at the end of each evening we made a dash to the kitchen for the tea pots. First ones there threw the wet tea leaves around the floor (to settle the dust) while the others swept the floor. We then put the communion rail, chairs and carpet back in place before the Sunday services. Happy memories of indoor camp fires, panto rehearsals, bazaars, Guide meetings and activities. I thoroughly enjoyed the monthly Church Parade, meeting in Erindale and marching to Church with flags flying.
I left the Guides in 1955 to go into Cubs and was placed in Abbey Wood Methodist Church. A few years later I went to Woolwich Methodist Church to become the Cub Leader. As I had to live in Greenwich (for my work), I moved my Membership to Woolwich in about 1960. (I did 41 years in the Scout Association.)
I spend some of my retirement now cleaning the toilets in Callington Methodist Church and most weeks it reminds me of sweeping Wesley Hall floors.
Wesley Hall leaders played an enormous part in forming my teenage years with their care, love and training. I have such happy memories of those 18 years.