Tea-time tradition is staged at Hall

Annuitants sit down to the Mary Hollon Tea 2013.
Annuitants sit down to the Mary Hollon Tea 2013.

ONE of Morpeth’s oldest traditions has taken place as diners tucked into the Mary Hollon Tea.

The annual event dates back to 1881 when Mayor of York Richard Hollon set up a fund for the elderly people of Morpeth in memory of his wife Mary, who was born in the town.

Annuitants received money, meat and coal, as well as the annual tea, which was always held on Richard and Mary’s wedding anniversary, November 5.

There were seven men and seven women who originally benefited from the Mary Hollon Annuity and Relief Fund, but today there are more than 70. All must be over the age of 75 and live in Morpeth, and all are invited to the tea.

The event had fallen by the wayside following local government re-organisation in 2009 when responsibility for the charity changed hands, but it was revived by a new committee in 2011 when the trust was re-branded as the Mary Hollon Fund.

This year, the tea, which must include roast beef, an address by a Protestant minister and entertainment, took place in Morpeth Town Hall.

Fund Chairman Derek Thompson welcomed the annuitants and Grace was said by trustee the Rev Ron Forster, before guests tucked into the four-course meal. The Rev Fion Sample gave the address, followed by entertainment in the form of local and humorous songs and recitations from Standing Stones.

Morpeth Mayor Joan Tebbutt proposed a toast to the donors, which have included many individuals and organisations over the years, and trustee Cynthia Livesey gave a vote of thanks to the tea organisers.

Trustee Barbara Pringle said: “It is wonderful that this long-standing tradition continues and is enjoyed by so many in our community. I feel sure that Richard Hollon would approve.”