The Nostalgia column with Margaret Watson

Margaret Watson.
Margaret Watson.

SOME people may think that what happened 30 years ago isn’t nostalgia but to a lot of people it is because the world is changing rapidly.

During the 55 years I have worked for the Reporter I have seen many changes, none more so than in the last 30 years or so.

CHEQUE PRESENTATION: Terry Devine (centre right) and Joe Smith (next to Terry) with a family and members of Dewsbury Moor Rugby Club.

CHEQUE PRESENTATION: Terry Devine (centre right) and Joe Smith (next to Terry) with a family and members of Dewsbury Moor Rugby Club.

When I was a young journalist there were scores of local charities raising hundreds of thousands of pounds a year for good causes.

Sadly, many are no longer with us because they have been forced to close due to lack of volunteers.

Everybody it seems is working these days, young and old alike, and they don’t have time to join voluntary groups or join committees.

Churches are closing down at great speed, so are pubs and clubs, shops and factories, not to mention cinemas and other places of entertainment, even hospitals!

CHARITY TEAM: Manageress Betty Mitchell with her team of helpers at the Imperial Cancer Research shop in Dewsbury.

CHARITY TEAM: Manageress Betty Mitchell with her team of helpers at the Imperial Cancer Research shop in Dewsbury.

I remember attending most of the money-raising efforts in the town, which between them raised millions of pounds over the years.

The pictures on this page tell only a fraction of the story of how local towns such as Dewsbury and Batley dug deep to help the charities in their midst.

Kirkwood Hospice and many other hospices wouldn’t be here but for the kindness of thousands of volunteers who gave up their spare time to go out rattling collecting boxes , selling raffle tickets, baking cakes, holding bring and buy sales.

Dewsbury, Batley and Mirfield hospitals wouldn’t have been built but for the support of such volunteers, and, of course, the generosity of the people who made donations.

Many local charities have folded over the last 30 years, but I doubt if anyone has written their histories, and where are the beautiful chains of office the presidents of many of these committees once wore?

This week I was sorting through old photographs I still have showing some of the people who used to raise fantastic amounts of money for charity, not just one-offs, but year-in year-out.

I don’t know if these people are still with us or living in the area, but I think these photographs of such fantastic people are well worth showing.

Some of the children pictured will be adults now and I just hope they’ve followed in the footsteps of their parents who gave big chunks of their lives to helping those in need. None that I knew ever got an MBE.

Some of these people didn’t belong to a recognised charity – they just did their own thing and got their families and friends to help.

Nurses and doctors, ambulance workers and firemen, rugby players, local churches, particularly Longcauseway Church, Dewsbury, pubs and clubs, raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity.

I remember particularly Tracey and Terry Divine and Joe Smith from Dewsbury Moor who raised money for children’s heart surgery at Killingbeck Hospital. One year they raised £12,000, some of which went towards buying a caravan to take sick children on holiday.

These people worked tirelessly for sick children, and when they asked the Reporter to take a photograph, it wasn’t for self glory, but to show those who’d donated where the money was going.

People today grumble at all the charity shops which now abound in town centres but do they have any idea how valuable these are to the charities they support?

I remember in 1992 writing about the success of Dewsbury’s Cancer Research Charity shop on Longauseway which opened in 1986

Their team of 25 dedicated volunteers, some of them working part-time, others full-time, raised £350,000 in just six years.

One organisation which raised money for virtually every charity in Dewsbury was Dewsbury Ladies’ Circle, which I understand is no longer with us.

And who will forget the WRVS, and the millions of cups of tea they made for hospital visitors and people visiting the local courts.

Or the Dewsbury Ladies Auxiliary, better known as local pub landladies, who raised large amounts for Kirkwood Hospice.

I cannot name all the charities which once existed in Dewsbury, or the ones which still remain, but I know there is still great generosity in the hearts of local people. They are still generous givers.

The only trouble is we cannot now get the people to keep the groups going because nobody wants to be chairman, secretary or treasurer anymore.

They don’t want the commitment or the responsibility.

If there is one worthy cause you would like to support this weekend, please go along to the Coffee Morning this Saturday – the anniversary of the tragic death of Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox – which is being held at the Friends Meeting House (Quakers) in Scholes Lane, Scholes, from 10am to noon.