Friday Club - memories from the 1980s

In July 2019 I was fortunate to be able to attend the funeral of Dorothy Atkinson who had reached the great age of 100. Mrs Atkinson was one of the most joy-filled people I’ve ever met.  She was still visiting the elderly, so she told me, well into her 90s.

Whenever I went to visit her in her latter years, her face would light up as she told me how lucky she felt, and what a wonderful life she had. It was impossible to come away from seeing her without feeling lighter, and feeling lucky myself to have known her. 

Transported back to the 1980s

After the service I was given a carrier bag by Mrs Atkinson’s daughter just as they were heading off for the burial. In it was a photo album with bright red tulips on, and, in writing I recognised, a label saying ‘Friday Club’. Immediately I was transported back to the 1980s and the Friday Club that Great Gidding Baptist Church ran for the local children. I think pretty much all my school friends went – I suspect my parents, at least, enjoyed a bit of peace and quiet with me out of the house every Friday.   

Younger Friday Club, older Friday Club

The younger Friday Club was run by two extraordinary ladies, Doris Tapps and Annie Davidson who had moved to Great Gidding from London during the Blitz. Miss Tapps and Miss Davidson (I never did pluck up courage to call them by their first names) were gentle, dedicated and patient in all their interactions with children. The older group was run by Ernie and Dorothy Atkinson from their home on Milking Slade Lane. Mr and Mrs A never seemed to mind as we rampaged through their house. We got to run amok in their garden. They always seemed to so calm, unflappable and at ease with the invasion of children after school every Friday.

The photo album feels like a great gift – a way of reliving those carefree days and to be reminded how grateful I feel to have known the patient and loving care of of Miss Tapps, Miss Davidson, and Mr and Mrs A. 

 Laura Jorgensen (Burgess)

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