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Mrs Madeline Smith
I was first introduced to Worcester Rugby Football club in the early 1970’s when my eldest son, Ian, played for the re-formed Colts team, against Stourbridge Colts at the Bevere ground.
It was approaching Christmas and the Christmas Draw was being organised by a senior member of the club, a Mr Cliff Poole. I offered to help him fold the tickets and that was the start of my twenty-three years fund raising for the club.
I continued helping with the Christmas Draw when Mr Irving Robins took over and after a short while I was asked to take over as promoter of the draw. This I did for many years, increasing the prize list to over two hundred items and the profit from hundreds of pounds to thousands. We had a purpose designed cage roller drum, made by Mr Ken Locke, into which all the sold tickets were put on the day of
the draw, usually the second Tuesday in December. After we had moved to Sixways I would start preparing the prize list at the beginning of September, asking players and members, writing dozens of letters to companies and collecting the promised prizes from said companies - that was the easy part! Getting the prizes the players had promised was another story. In fact the consciences of players still
owing prizes may be pricked when reading this!
I would aim to get the prize list to the printers by October 1st. The printed address labels then had to be stuck to envelopes reading for sending 20 books of tickets to each member of the club. When the tickets (40,000) arrived from the printers I would spend hours putting the books in elastic bands and then into envelopes, recording every batch of numbers against the name of the person they were being sent to ready for taking to the post office for stamping and delivery. Players had 40 books each, back then we had five teams, Colts and Minis, again ticket numbers were recorded against names. I would give these tickets out personally on a Saturday before the matches, I always had a pile waiting for me the next day, left behind more by design than accident.
However, the “owners” could be traced and would be reunited with their “lost” tickets, no matter how many attempts it took! They had a month in which to sell their tickets and return the counterfoils - with the money. They were cross checked, amounts entered and moneys banked. The prizes were collected and then delivered to, or collected by the winners by Christmas.
At the beginning of the new year I would start collecting prizes for the Summer Fete “tombola”, which I really loved doing. This was usually held in June and the sun always seemed to shine on us. I had hundreds of prizes, taking three or four hours of queuing people to clear them. It was tiring, but very rewarding for the club. One year I did a French Cafe, ‘Allo ‘Allo style, with Mrs June Morgan, Jane Morgan, Margot Clements and myself dressing as French waitresses, serving French food and drinks. I even got Ted Rhodes to dress as an Onion Seller, complete with bike and onions. There was also Bob Paul and Joe Hickey as the Monsieurs Rene. It was great fun and made even more money.
During the rugby season I started a Saturday and Floodlit match raffle, for a bottle of Scotch, with the proceeds of which I purchased and planted, with a little help, many trees. Unfortunately, only three of the original ones remain: the willow by the bridge entrance to the car park; the copper beech on the drive; the horse chestnut at the top of the drive, by the road entrance. In the old clubhouse car park there were three flower beds which became very overgrown. Having a love of gardening, I dug, weeded, planted bulbs, roses and bedding in them. They lasted about three years, then came the bulldozers!
For several years the club’s Annual Dinner Dance was held at the Raven Hotel in Droitwich. Yet again I would be there fund raising with another raffle, rather special on these occasions, with even better quality prizes and selling even more tickets.
When we first moved to Sixways we needed a tractor to pull the gang-mower. A second hand tractor, called “Jezebel”, was purchased with money from my raffles and driven by the late and loyal club member Edward “Gaffer” Jay.
In 1997 I was awarded the highest accolade given to any member of Worcester Rugby Football Club, Honorary Life Membership and, being the first female to receive such, I feel extremely honoured and proud.
After all these years raising thousands of pounds for WRFC something happened in my life which prompted me to help save lives and raise £15,000 within 15 months, for the Hereford and Worcester Ambulance Service. This enabled them to purchase three defibrillators for use on Worcester ambulances.
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