Traditional tea-time toast to Mr Hollon

Annuitants await the Hollon Tea.
Annuitants await the Hollon Tea.

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 trustees of the Mary Hollon Annuity and Relief Fund.

The trustees of the Mary Hollon Annuity and Relief Fund.

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 and Relief Fund – a far cry from the 25 women and men who originally benefited from Mr Hollon’s generosity.

Nowadays, the annuitants are determined by age (over 75) and length of residency in the town.

At the start of the tea, they and special guests Alex and Anne Swailes and Penni Blythe were welcomed by fund chairman Cynthia Livesey.

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 the current Mayor of Morpeth, Coun Jack Gebhard.

Penni then reminisced about how certain women gained voting privileges 100 years ago.

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 Rev Alison Mills – who talked about ‘STUFF’ in connection with angels in very humorous terms.

Then followed the entertainment from Gillian and Ken Irvine, who introduced everyone to young musicians Helen on flute, Anna who sang and Catherine on violin – much to the delight of the audience.

Finally, Cynthia 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 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 great generosity that the Hollon Fountain, currently in front of the Clock Tower, was erected from public subscriptions.