Dozens of residents enjoyed an afternoon of entertainment and an excellent meal in accordance with a town tradition.
In 1881, Richard Hollon donated a sum of money for the benefit of the elderly people of Morpeth. This was in memory of his late wife, Mary, who was brought up in the area.
The Hollon Tea again took place on November 5, in Morpeth Town Hall. The date is always the same, the day that Richard and Mary Hollon were married.
More than 80 elderly residents of Morpeth are now annuitants under the Mary Hollon Annuity & Relief Fund – a far cry from the 25 women and men who originally benefited from Mr Hollon’s generosity.
Nowadays, annuitants are determined by age (over 75) and length of residency in the town. At the start of the tea, they and special guests Clive and Jennifer Temple and Alec and Ann Swailes were welcomed by Derek Thompson, chairman of the fund.
This was followed by a performance from one of the charity’s trustees, Barbara Pringle, of a poem she had written entitled The Hollon Love Story. As the title suggests, it tells the story of Mary and Richard Hollon and how the Hollon Tea came to be and those in attendance were full of praise for the poem and its telling.
A toast to the donors, who over the years have included many local individuals and organisations as well as Mr Hollon, was given by Morpeth Mayor Andrew Tebbutt, who is also a trustee.
The Grace was given by another of the trustees, Rev Ron Forster, after which the four-course meal was served. Once the food had settled, the address was given by New Life Christian Centre Minister Mike Willis, who described in humorous terms how his wife Karen came to present a painting of Morpeth to Prince Charles. There followed entertainment of local songs and comic recitations from the Gadgie Collective, which was much enjoyed by everyone.
Finally, the tea chairman Cynthia Livesey gave a vote of thanks to everyone involved in making the event such a success. During the afternoon, the annuitants received their traditional cash annuity.
After the clearing up, Barbara Pringle said: “It is wonderful that the Hollon Tea grows in numbers of annuitants and a tribute to all past and present trustees that this long-standing tradition continues.”
It was in recognition of Mr Hollon’s generosity that the Hollon Fountain, currently in front of the Clock Tower, was erected from public subscriptions.