SIXTY-FIVE years of the St Thomas Wednesday Group by Anne Fisher (April 2011)
Margaret Hampson was instrumental in forming a group of St Thomas’s ladies who met once a month in one another’s homes for a talk or demonstration given by one of the members. This group called themselves the “Thursday Group”. Membership must have been about 10. I am the only one left of the original members.
In the mid 1950’s several new members joined the group and it was soon referred to as “ the Young Mother’s Group.” It now consisted of mothers with young children who continued to meet in each others houses with their young, for fellowship, prayer, tea and a sharing of views and news. These ladies provided posies for Christenings, followed up with informal calls on the parents. The children who were baptised were sent birthday cards until they turned four, when they were invited to join the Sunday School. The group also helped with teas in the hall after church once a month and also with Sunday school parties. When the group expanded to 20 members it was decided to move to the minor hall for meetings. In the 1960’s the group grew in numbers and the name was changed to “Mother’s Group”- presumably because some of the members no longer considered themselves young! The group enjoyed helping with Synods, the annual Parish social, Confirmation etc.
In the mid 1970’s the St Thomas’s bridge drives were started to raise funds. Iris Winter convened the bridge drives which have become an annual event in the Parish calendar, and have raised substantial funds over the years. This money has been used for many improvements in the church and hall; carpets, curtains, cupboards, crockery, chairs, and flooring to name but a few. The starting point for the transformation of the Garden of Remembrance came partially from funding from the Group. Donations are also given annually to charities such as St Luke’s, School Feeding, Service Dining Rooms and others.
During 1975 the “Mother’s Group” decided that another name change was necessary. At that time Arthur Pryor was very active in parish affairs and the name “Arthur’s Marthas” was jokingly suggested! After many different names were proposed and discussed the “Wednesday Group” was finally decided upon – plain and simple.
About this time, 1975, Rosemary Curry started the St Thomas’s Branch of the Cape Peninsula Clothing Guild. Under the umbrella of the Rondebosch Branch the St Thomas’s group makes substantial contributions of new and knitted clothing and cash donations to the Clothing Guild. It has fallen to my lot to be the convenor for St Thomas’s since then.
Also, about this time, Marion Coombs organised a bi-monthly film show for the elderly – mostly from Avondrust and Welverdiend. Volunteers transported the guests to and from the parish Hall for the show. Arthur Pryor operated the projector and a delicious tea was provided afterwards. Eventually a Lions Happy Bus was used for transport and these film shows were a feature for several years until the arrival of television in South Africa.
One of the group’s biggest contributions to the church has been the making of tapestry kneelers. The prime mover in this effort was Margot Lomberg who, in the mid eighties, with the blessing of the Rector, Stephen Oliver, started the project. Many dedicated tapesters have worked continuously since then under the guidance and organisation of Margot – with considerable assistance from Joan Selfe and Marion Coombs, and ongoing funding by the Wednesday Group. This project was completed towards the end of 1996.
The involvement of the Wednesday Group in the practical life of the Parish over a period of sixty-five years has been immense. The group has been blessed with capable, innovative and committed chairladies. Not only do they instil enthusiasm in the members but also a marked sense of spiritual commitment and caring that pervades the monthly meetings and the fruits of true spirituality are apparent for all to see. New members of all ages will be made to feel most welcome in the Wednesday Group where there is a niche for all.