FRIENDS OF THE SWAN CHRISTMAS PARTY
In the 1990's, two regulars of The Swan Inn devised the original concept of the “Friends of The Swan Inn Christmas Party”. It was recognised that some older parishioners spent Christmas alone and perhaps in straitened circumstances and the welfare of senior citizens has always been a parish responsibility either through the Vestry Committee or the Parish Council.
The earliest Christmas gatherings of the "Friends" were organised by Don Hughes and Malcolm Walker and held in The Swan Inn, which could accommodate about 60 people in three separate rooms. The food was a finger buffet and the drinks were free with no limits and this proved to be a great success. There was a small prize draw and background music to accompany the chat. It was a tight squeeze to seat everyone. The finance came from a number of sources. The Parish Council and the Community Centre each gave £100, there were private donations of £10-20 from the Swan regulars and there was a bonus ball lottery competition. The cost of the event was usually £400-£500. As costs increased so the donation from the Parish Council increased.
In 2006, Nick Cook and Geoffrey Robinson agreed to step in and take over the organisation of the event after Malcolm's passing and Don felt it had become too much to organise. Some changes were made and with greater numbers a move to the Community Centre was needed which provides a more comfortable and safer environment. A local lady has prepared a generous sandwich buffet each year and with the help of donations, every household has been provided with a gift to take home such as a small box of chocolates or biscuits, or a bottle of wine, etc.
Over the years, there has been a determined effort to minimise costs whilst also providing an enjoyable day with varied entertainments. The practice of free drinks for all was stopped although a complimentary drink is still offered on arrival and a donations bowl is left at the door. The organisers have themselves raised funds via open weekends, the selling of booklets to the public and they had a bottle on the bar of the Swan Inn to raise additional funds but the principal funding comes from the Parish Council and the Worlingworth Charities. There is a lot of hard work, which goes into obtaining gifts donated by many generous people and businesses, both within and outside of Worlingworth. This last year, every single gift for the forty plus households were from donations, which was an incredible achievement. The Community Centre also waives it usage fee, which helps with the overall running costs.
With the support of all our donors, we look forward to continued success with this community event.
Geoff Robinson January 2016