Trust is not just about a nice tea, club members hear

Andrew Tebbutt speaking and solicitor Michael Gaunt.
Andrew Tebbutt speaking and solicitor Michael Gaunt.

Morpeth Rotary Club

THE general view of the Mary Hollon Trust in Morpeth is that it provides a tea party for elderly residents once a year.

Morpeth Rotary members were enlightened, entertained and given some of the true facts by Andrew Tebbutt, who is company secretary and a trustee.

The trust started in 1881, but the story went even further back to 1731 when Robert Trotter was born.

He was brought up in Melrose, went to Edinburgh University and came to Morpeth as Presbyterian Minister at the church in Cottingwood Lane. He lived in Morpeth for 50 years and was father to four sons and three daughters, all of them talented and intelligent.

His son John married an Indian wife and lived in Burma, but both were murdered in the Burma War of 1824. Their daughter Mary was adopted by John’s brother William and when he bought Bon Accord House in Morpeth, she became his housekeeper.

William was a doctor and Mary enjoyed living in Morpeth and meeting the patients, both rich and poor.

Mary married Richard Hollon on November 5, 1855, and they went to live in York for 25 years, but kept in touch with Morpeth. In 1861, she presented a clock with three dials to the new St George’s Presbyterian Church.

When Mary died, Richard wanted to do something to celebrate their happy marriage. As she had so enjoyed living in Morpeth, he decided to set up a fund for 25 over 60s from the town to have an annuity of £10 each year.

This was first celebrated by local aldermen, councillors and prospective annuitants on November 5, 1880, although the deed was not signed until 1881. They retired to a public house with the chosen 25 and held the first ever Hollon Tea.

In the early days of the trust, each of the 25 got a tonne of coal and six pounds of beef.

An article in the Morpeth Herald in 1893 protested that the funds were not being distributed well. To qualify, they had to have lived in Morpeth or the neighbouring township of Buller’s Green for 15 years and be honest, sober and of good moral character.

Up to 1910, the Morpeth Herald had a feature every year on what the trust had done, but from 1914 to 1941, nothing appears to have been reported. A lot of information on the Trust seems to have been lost when the council moved from the Kylins.

The Hollon Tea was held in the Town Hall for the first time in 1942 and in 1946, summer trips started again.

There is another gap in the record from 1948 to 1974, when Castle Morpeth Council took over the charity and nine borough councillors became the trustees.

Charity Commission rules changed in 2003 and this meant new trustees were appointed and Joan Green became the Secretary, but there was no Hollon Tea after 2007.

By 2010, the charity had been de-registered and Mr Tebbutt was asked to help to bring it up to date. The trustees invested the money in a better way so now, as well as having an annual tea, they also help to provide advice and financial help.

They have contributed £500 to the local food bank and support the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. This year, 78 people aged over 75 will sit down for their roast beef Hollon Tea and a cash gift.

A vote of thanks was given to Mr Tebbutt by Rhona Dunn.