FELPHAM and MIDDLETON HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY

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A Brief History of the Society

The Society was founded in 1940/41 under the title of  ' The Village Produce Association' and was affiliated to the Association of Village Produce Associations.

The aims of the association were to promote the growing of fruit and vegetables and home production of associated foods, such as jam, marmalade, pickles, bread, cakes etc to assist in the War effort - to off-set the lack of imported foods owing to the enormous loss of merchant shipping, and also the reduction of the labour force in the food industry.

Early Years (1943 - 1978)

The idea of competition among gardeners and housewives (very often the same person!) to encourage more production, led to the first Annual Produce Show in 1943. The Association was affiliated to the Royal Horticultural Society and that Society's Show Rules have been applied at all shows. In the post-war period, the show developed into a Flower and Produce Show and Fete, when sideshows and roundabouts for children, stalls, and competitions, such as fancy dress parades and dog shows were introduced.

The Shows were first held in Farmer Norman's field, (behind the semi-bungalows, near the traffic lights, in Felpham Way) and continued there for some years after the War until the field could not be used because of the danger of Foot and Mouth disease. It was then transferred to the large part of King George V playing field.  Children's classes  for embroidery, needlework, metal work, woodwork, painting and drawing were introduced  and classes for embroidery, needlework, crochet, knitting, general handicraft, art and flower arranging for adults.


The Middle Years (1978 - 1999)

The Show continued in the Field until 1978 when, due to vandalism and lack of funds to replace the tents, the Village Produce Association ceased to exist.  It was then reformed and became known as the Felpham and Middleton Horticultural Society.  For the next 15 years Eleanor Bond remained Chairman during which time various events e.g. jumble sales, bring ‘n buy, coffee mornings and wine and cheese parties were held to build up Society funds.  The Annual Show was held in the Felpham Leisure Centre and subsequently the Felpham Memorial Village Hall and Scout Hut combined with lectures in the Methodist Church Hall.   A second Show, the Rose and Sweet Pea was introduced in 1982 and a Ploughmans Lunch in 1985.  Both continue to this day as does the biennial members Gardens Open afternoon  introduced in 1992.   Also in this year the Society celebrated its 50th Anniverary with musical entertainment and refreshments. In 1995, Pam Grant, in her first year as Chairman,  introduced and organised an annual holiday until her retirement 4 years later. 

Recent Times (1995 - present)

In 1999 under the chairmanship of Richard Gordon, due to increased attendance at members meetings, the Society moved from the Methodist Church Hall to St Mary’s Centre where all events, could be held.  Unfortunately, due to lack of outdoor space, the dog show was abandoned.  Plans were made for an annual Social Lunch in January and also a half day outing.  These were carried the following year under the chairmanship of Beryl Allen.  The Society celebrated its Diamond Jubilee in 2002 with a lunch in St Mary’s Centre.  Also to mark the occasion, the Society had its first holiday abroad, to the Floriade in Holland.  2004 also saw the introduction of a members meeting in February, this and the social lunch, filling the long dormant period between the AGM in November and the first meeting in March. 

Rhonda Ball became chairman in 2005 and introduced a third Show, the Spring Show, the following year. In 2007 Rhonda took over the organising of the annual holiday.  In 2012, our 70th anniversary was marked by a lunch in St Mary’s Centre followed by a talk on “70 years of English Garden History” and a second afternoon outing added to the programme for that year.   

Membership has continued to grow with attendance at meetings and all other activities well supported.     The committee continues to look for opportunities to improve our programme of  activities and stimulate interest and suggestions from members are always carefully considered.

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Presidents and Chairmen of the Horticultural Society

Presidents

No records prior to 1978

Brig H E Horsfield CBE  -   Sept 1978 to September 1980

Mr C R Purley  -   Sept 1980 to November 1993 

Les Allatt    -   Nov 1993 to November 2013  

Beryl Allen   -  November 2013 to date

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Chairmen

Eleanor Bond was the founding Chairman of the F & M H S  October 1977  -  November 1993

Pam Grant  -  November 1993 –  February 1998

Caroline Fearnley  -  February 1998 – November 1998 (Acting Chairman)

Richard Gordon   -   November 1998 – November 1999

Beryl Allen   -   November 1999 – November 2004 

Rhonda Ball   -   November 2004 – current    

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