Over the years, many Morpethians and people from the surrounding area will have either kindly donated or purchased an item or two from the annual Bargain Bazaar sale.
It had been run for almost three decades as a joint venture between the 6th Morpeth (Methodist) Scout Group and the 1st Morpeth Company Boys’ Brigade, using its church premises in Manchester Street.
Sadly, and for various reasons, 2016 was the last year the event took place, so it was felt by the organisers that a brief history of how this well-supported sale started, and other interesting background information, should be documented.
In 1982, a Scout group started at the Methodist Church and as camping equipment was needed, fund-raising events were planned.
The following year, a toy fair was held in St George’s Church Hall and this raised £300.
In 1984, the first Bargain Bazaar was held in the former Barclays Bank premises – now the Salvation Army shop – in Newgate Street.
There were long queues in the street on opening day and £1,500 was collected.
This amount was doubled the following year when it was held in the three small shops in Bridge Street.
By this time, larger premises were needed to cope with the volume of goods being received, so an approach was made to the Boys’ Brigade to rent its hall for the next two to three years and between £3,000 and £4,000 was made each year.
As a result, enough funds had been raised to buy all the camping equipment needed. Therefore, it was suggested to the Boys’ Brigade that they join forces in future and share the proceeds.
This was done from 1990 onwards, but in 1989, to help with fund-raising for the Methodist Church Girl Guides and Brownies, the proceeds were split and shared four ways.
Between 1990 and 2016, takings continued to increase year-on-year and over the past decade, more than £10,000 was raised each year.
The estimated total over the 34-year period is between £200,000 and £250,000.
The money has been spent on many things such as maintenance of the building, purchase of equipment and exchange visits with a scout troop from Sweden.
The organisers would like to say a huge thank you to the public and all the volunteer helpers over the past 34 years for making these achievements possible.
Many friendships have developed between those involved, making it a very popular event in Morpeth.
While there are no further Bargain Bazaars in the pipeline, fund-raising activities in other forms must carry on for both the scouts and Boys’ Brigade.
Therefore, it is hoped that members of the local community will continue to support both organisations in their future plans – around 150 young members will benefit from these efforts.