A TEA party for pensioners which has survived two world wars and snow storms in the Holme Valley is celebrating its centenary next month.
From 1908 until the present day, Wooldale Old Folks Treat has provided an annual tea and entertainment afternoon for more than 200 elderly members of its community.
From humble beginnings 100 years ago at a total of just £6.86 to feed and entertain everyone, costs have risen to £2,703 last year, but the treat has continued to flourish with an army of local volunteers and local fundraising efforts.
Former committee chairman Don Yates said: “The Wooldale Old Folks Treat still has the same importance it originally served. It provides an opportunity for elderly people to meet friends and acquaintances they haven’t seen for a while. With growing families living further from home, the elderly folk can still be left isolated.”
This year’s event will be held on Saturday, May 10, at Holmfirth High School with a grand centenary concert planned for guests along with a special gift. Additional funds from Holme Valley Parish Council have been made available to help with costs.
Records still held by the committee show a group of villagers drawn mainly from members of non conformist chapels in Wooldale getting together in 1908 to plan a treat with fundraising mainly from private donations, sale of tickets and collections made at a festival.
The first Treat was held at two venues in Robert Lane, the school and the Sunday School opposite and attendees may have been expected to pay!
During its early years, the Treat continued along a similar theme with a tea and entertainment.
In 1910 there was a lantern slide show and other entertainment over the years has included choirs, musicians and, in 1949, Cyril Barker’s Concert party at a cost of £6.50.
The Treat continued throughout the First World War years 1914 to 1918, but was suspended between 1940 and 1949, possibly due to rationing.
Prize-giving was first introduced in 1931 with an award going to the oldest woman attending, the oldest man and the oldest combined age couple. The woman received a shawl, later replaced with a cardigan, and the man a walking stick.
From the 1950s the qualifying age for the Treat was reduced to 65 with people still attending from the Wooldale Electoral ward.
Fundraising is held throughout the year with collections, raffles, a Christmas draw and Harvest Home event held within the local community.
The event moved to the newly built Holmfirth Secondary Modern School, now Holmfirth High in the 1960s and plates, cake stands and crockery continue to be borrowed from Wooldale Free Church, Wooldale Methodist Church and Lydgate Unitarian Chapel.
The event was held there in 1950/51 in its Sunday School with no hire charge, but with payments for the caretaker and for piano tuning.
A gift for each person is still provided which has included a new £1 coin, loose tea and biscuits, commemorative tea towels and mugs to celebrate the Millennium.
Mr Yates added that the continuation of the Treat had been made possible because of the enormous assistance given by families of committee members and friends and supporters of the Wooldale area. Many, he said would remember April 25, 1981.
On the Friday before the Treat, eight inches of snow fell and continued well into Saturday – the day of the event.
The decision to cancel was taken at 8.30am that morning and by 10.30am volunteers started arriving at Lane Bottom Chapel to start buttering bread and making sandwiches to pack up tea boxes to be taken out.
Between 1 and 5pm that day, 360 teas – together with a packet of tea and two packets of biscuits – were delivered to men and women in their homes.
This community spirit ensured people were not disappointed on what has become a much looked-forward to event in the calendar.