The Quarterly Village Publication produced by Barrow upon Soar Community Association.
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Jan Hind
Val Gillings
Judith Rodgers

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Jan Hind in conversation with Tina Long

For this issue I have been in conversation with an amazing lady who, for over 20 years has contributed a great deal to the life of our village. Her name is Bettine (known as Tina) Long. She is, and has been for many years, a leading light in the activities and the running of the ‘Bishop Beveridge Club’. She kindly agreed to talk to me for Barrow Voice about how the club started and also about the history associated with it.

Originally built as a Squash Court, and belonging to the Barrow estate, the building was taken over by the Village Adult School on July 18th 1952. At that time many adults had only received minimal schooling and the Adult School was designed to help them to improve their literacy. A general meeting was called in the School on July 18th 1952, to which representatives of all the main village organisations were invited. On the agenda was an item to consider forming a club for Senior Citizens in Barrow. Captain Huston, after whom Huston Close was named, presided at the meeting and there was a unanimous agreement that a club should be formed and run by the village.

In 1962, the Trustees of the Adult School, no longer feeling the need for the Adult School, decided to dispose of it. Mr Heseldine offered it to the newly formed Social Club for £300 + legal costs and it finally changed hands some years later. A meeting was held at the home of Mrs Frances Davis to decide on a name for the club; one lady wanted to call it ‘the Darby and Joan Club’ but, fortunately, was voted down in favour of ‘Bishop Beveridge Club’. (It is still the only senior citizens club in the Borough of Charnwood to own its own premises and you need to be 60 to be able to join.)

Initially, a great deal of work was required to bring the building up to the necessary standard and Harry Perkins Builders did excellent work on the alterations. They put an extension on to the side of the Hall for a kitchen, which was later followed by another one, such was its success. Money for this work was donated by the Shuttlewood Clark Foundation, Charnwood Borough Council, Barrow Parish Council, BUSCA, the Jean Cope trust, and many more. It is fortunate that the Club does receive regular bequests and donations for its upkeep through the medium of wills and these bequests are very important and greatly valued.

At the very start of its new life as a club, various activities were tried. First there was the card and domino night on a Wednesday, (cost 3d each in old money!) which was a huge success, and gradually, more and more activities were included. Everyone was delighted with the club and work continued to be carried out to improve the building and its facilities - the whole ‘makeover’ took 18 months to complete. The fund raising for this project continued in and around the village and there was even a large ‘money thermometer’ at a nearby bus stop so that people could see how the fund was progressing.

All the groups in the village pulled together to raise the required money; there were stalls at Humphrey Perkins and all sorts of local activities. Virtually every group in the village made an effort to raise some money for the cause. Captain Huston put a great deal of hard work and time into fundraising. Frances Davis, a great friend of the village of Barrow upon Soar, was one of those extremely committed people who had identified the need for a social centre for elderly people and she had personally put an enormous effort into getting it up and running. When Frances died, a concert was held in her memory, honouring her as a true friend of the Bishop Beveridge Club.

More recently, some of the money left to the club has been used to buy a lovely umbrella stand with the following words engraved upon it: ‘In memory of Frances Davis, Founder Member and Trustee of the Bishop Beveridge Club.’

This will be a constant reminder of a wonderful woman who did so much, not only for the village in general, but also for the Bishop Beveridge Club and the umbrella stand will now hold pride of place at the entrance to the Club. Every year the group celebrate the anniversary of Bishop Beveridge’s birthday as, without his efforts there wouldn’t have been a club at all.

Photo (left) - shows Tina (on the right) with her daughter Charlotte and Marie Slater with the umbrella stand in memory of Frances Davis

As well as talking to Tina about the history of the Bishop Beveridge Club, I also spoke to about her family - her late husband Chris, and her daughters, Jenny and Christina. Tina is quick to say that without the staunch support of her family, and particularly her wonderful husband whom she says was ‘a brick’ and who is still very sadly missed, she could not possibly have done all these things for the village, which she still continues to do.

Bishop Beveridge Club has 14 committee members, not all elderly, plus four others who represent the churches in Barrow. In addition, various societies make use of the facilities for their own group activities. The Club is a living, active, vibrant part of the Barrow Community and Tina Long is a very interesting and hard working lady who has many fascinating memories from her years in Barrow. It was a pleasure and a delight to spend time in conversation with her.

Over the years, a great many people have contributed to the formation, funding and running of this excellent amenity in Barrow-upon-Soar, and if you feel that you too would like to help in some way, or would like to join the Club and spend some time with like-minded people, please contact Tina Long on 01509 412844. She will be happy to welcome you and point you in the right direction. Volunteers of any age are always warmly welcomed as are new members, remembering that the members (but not the volunteers) need to be 60 years old or older.