Looking back over the years at Royston's Forget-Me-Not Club

Last club outing visit to North Weald on  August 7, 2019

Last club outing visit to North Weald on August 7, 2019 - Credit: Barbara Charter

It was in the late 40s when my grandfather, William Bicker, realised there was nothing for elderly people to do in the town so he decided to do something about it. 

The Royston Over 60s Club, as it was then known, was started on June 9, 1950 by Grandad with help from Mrs Christina Wiltshire, who was under 60. She eventually became the secretary for 26 years, then the president.

They would meet in a room near which used to be the Natwest Bank on the Cross along with four other people. I think one of those four was Mrs Holloway, Jean Costello’s mother.

After a while the club needed to find new premises due to the room being required for other purposes and also the growing number of members. The British Legion kindly offered their building where we have been ever since. The hall has changed a lot over the years even since I started. 

I remember going on an outing to the sea, Clacton I think, with the club. Some people were picked up in Kneesworth and one man stands out. He was a retired policeman and he told me how to clean shoes properly.

At the seaside was the first time I ever had a Knickerbocker Glory, so you can imagine what a youngster was thinking. I was very surprised when I saw what it was. 

In July 1951 there were 87 members. Looking through the old books it looks as if Grandad was the first chairman. Back in 1952 the birthday party was held in September. Also in this year the club took part in a procession for the Coronation celebrations. 

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For August 1955 I found the names of the committee: Mrs Blows, Mrs Robinson, Mrs Chamberlain, Mrs Harman, Mr Barton, Mr Lamb, Mr Harradence , Mrs Humphries and of course Mrs Wiltshire and Grandad. No doubt you remember or knew some of them. 

 In 1959 Grandad told the committee that as his work kept him from the club more than he would have liked he felt that he should relinquish the office of chairman. Mrs Robinson then suggested that Grandad be invited to be president of the club. He would be called upon to preside at AGMs and parties. The new chairman was Mr J. Holloway. 

1964 saw another new chairman, Mr W. Green, and the Treasurer was Mr J. Schofield. 

Mrs Griggs was chair when I appeared on the scene in March 1977 and Mrs Wiltshire was president. I don't know when Grandad gave up the position. The secretary was Mrs Carrington from whom I took over, and the treasurer was William Cowell. 

By 1980 the club changed its name to the Forget-Me-Not club, as the flower was our emblem, to avoid being confused with the Evergreens.

Mrs. Wiltshire stepped down as president in 1981 and Mrs Milne took the position.

In 1987 George Howes stepped down as Treasurer due to ill health and Hazel Vineall took it on, then Les Lovelock, Lucy Sutcliffe and now Wendy Chamberlain. In 1989 John Watts took over as President from Mrs Milne. 

It was during this period that Ivy Mcllmurray became chairman, a position she held for about 18 years before stepping down in March 1998.

She later became our president, a position she still holds. Her sister Doris Hall also joined the club and became a committee member too. Boy, the fun we had at committee meetings. We thought we would have to part them sometimes as neither would admit to being wrong.

We went to a committee member's house for meetings and they were kind enough to provide tea and refreshments I can’t remember how many different houses I went to. My place was more or less ruled out because I had a budgie who was loose and would not go in his cage for anyone until his bedtime.

After 10 months without a chairman, in November 1998 it was proposed that Brian Chamberlain be our new chairman, the position he took from January 1999. 

As for myself, I do not seem to be able to stand down as secretary, but I know I would be lost as I was in 2020, when the club closed down after 70 years. Mind you, my job is a lot easier than when I first started.

On my first day, to get me used to being at the club I was made to stand up and more or less take the meeting. No microphone and over 100 members. I thought "if I don’t soon sit down I will fall down with fright". 

I will finish the way Grandad often did, with a small story with a moral. It reads:

It’s not what we have, it’s what we give, 
It’s not what we are, but how we live, 
It’s not what we do, but how we do it, 
That makes this world worth going through it.