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Mercury Memories: How Mrs Pettitt found the recipe to spread Christmas cheer

25 years ago : December 20, 1991 - Pupils at Barnack School spent almost three weeks rehearsing for their Christmas production 'When I was Your Age...' to ensure a smooth performance. The show involved all 92 pupils at the school - the excellent costumes were made by parents.
25 years ago : December 20, 1991 - Pupils at Barnack School spent almost three weeks rehearsing for their Christmas production 'When I was Your Age...' to ensure a smooth performance. The show involved all 92 pupils at the school - the excellent costumes were made by parents.

The Stamford Mercury is proud to be Britain’s oldest continuously-published newspaper and has an amazing archive at our offices in Stamford, managed by volunteers from the Stamford Mercury Archive Trust.

10 years ago

When Alison Pettitt heard that an elderly friend had sat down alone to a bowl of cornflakes for Christmas dinner last year she made a vow not to let it happen again.

So on Monday, Alison will be forgoing her usual family Christmas and cooking dinner for more than 40 people who might otherwise be on their own.

Mark Patrick will be doing the same. Instead of sitting down comfortably in her own flat in Stamford, she will be in the kitchen of an old folks’ complex preparing a delicious meal for 12 pensioners.

“There were so many lonely people who were on their own that I just knew I had to do something,” she said.

Mrs Pettitt, a 55-year-old mother-of-two, has booked the Abbey church hall on Christmas Day,

She said: “There are lots of people out there who will be eating alone or for whom the task of cooking a Christmas dinner is simply too much work.

“But the one thing I would like to stress is that people should not think that by coming they are sad or lonely.

“It is just nicer for everyone to have company at this time of year. Many people have relatives who live far away and cannot always have their family around them and we want them to know there is a friendly welcome for them with us.

“My husband Philip and I will be eating with everyone else and we are expecting to have a lovely time, we have music and games to enjoy - it is what Christmas is all about.”

In Stamford, Mrs Patrick and her helper, Jill Wigglesworth, will spend 12 hours preparing the Christmas Day and Boxing Day meals, preparing chicken, roast beef, salmon, vegetables and desserts.

25 years ago

Small traders in Stamford claim big high street chains are squeezing their Sunday takings.

Several stores have picked up the seven-day shopping gauntlet thrown down last month by Tesco and smaller businesses that have opened on Sundays for years, selling papers and groceries, say they are feeling the pinch.

Their situation looks set to worsen this week with Morrisons announcing the Sunday opening of their Stamford superstore for the first time.

Maureen Stubbs, who runs a general store with husband John in Scotgate, said: “Sunday is normally our best day. We normally double our takings for a weekday, but now they are down 25 per cent.

“It’s hard enough to make a living without the big boys taking money out of your mouth.”

W. H. Smith, which supplies Blades and W. H. Howard in Red Lion Square with newspapers, is among those to have joined the Sunday trading club.

Josie Smith at Howards said the shop would only open for a half day from this Sunday: “I wonder if the staff at these other shops will be so keen to work on sweltering summer days,” she added.

n No action will be taken by South Kesteven District Council against stores opening on Sundays, despite a plea from churchmen to “uphold the law.”

The environmental health committee heard that a letter signed by seven ministers of various denominations had been received calling on the council to uphold the law over Sunday trading.

The council’s solicitor advised that any prosecution for alleged breach of legislation would be unlikely to succeed and that the could could risk heavy damages and costs if it embarked on prosecutions or sought injunctions.

n District councillors pulled the chain this week on a plea for new toilet facilities at Stamford bus station.

The £60,000 to £70,000 they would cost would be “an absolute waste of money” South Kesteven health committee was told.

Coun Maureen Riley, Mayor of Stamford, and Coun Dickon Sinker gave strong backing to a town council request for toilets and a mothers’ room at the Sheep Market terminal.

Coun Sinker said: “It is the first stop on the way north from London. Recently a young family queuing for the automatic toilers told me there wasn’t enough time to use them before their bus left.

“On another occasion a lady in a wheelchair asked for a key for the toilet for the disabled and was told she would have to fetch it from the town hall.”

Coun John Taylor said there should be sign-posting to show where the Red Lion Square toilets were and that a changing room for young mothers should be provided.

Coun Don Fisher said: “When the old toilets at the bus station were closed nobody said anything about it. Now they want them back, It would be an absolute waste.”

50 years ago

For 27 years headmistress at Dyke Primary School, Mrs. I. Hallam, retired at the end of term, and, on Tuesday, received from Ald. H. L. Hudson, chairman of the school managers, a breakfast and dinner service with trolley, subscribed to by scholars, parents, managers and friends.

Ald. Hudson said that the fate of the school was undecided, but someone would be coming to carry on Mrs. Hallam’s work for the time being.

“We shall be sorry to see the school disappear but, in the present financial straits, the education committee, the biggest spending committee of Kesteven County Council, is taking a look at what are known as one-teacher schools, of which there are several in the county, but I hope you will be able to carry on here. No doubt a good many of you will not want to go to Bourne: it is all right in the summer but a big strain in the winter,” he said

Mr. Hudson paid tribute to Mrs. Hallam’s work and Mrs. Hallam said that her years at Dyke had been happy.

She would miss very much her official association with the school, although she intended to keep in touch with it. She had been particularly proud of its success in sport, of which it seemed to have gained more than a normal share.

In her early years as its headmistress it had been a two-teacher school with children up to 14 years. She has scarcely been appointed in 1940 when a number of evacuees were moved to Dyke from Hull and she had been fortunate in the help she had received from Mr. Kirby, of Hull, and also from Miss Darnes.

When the school was reduced to the 5 to 11 age group it had been hard work, but latterly she had had the help of Mrs. McDermott, an experienced teacher, of whom the children were very fond.

Christine Watts presented a bouquet to Mrs. Hallam and the ceremony closed with the children singing carols for the parents and managers.

100 years ago

Eligible men in Stamford - A visit of an Army Medical Board was paid to Stamford last week, and at the Drill hall about 60 men in the town engaged on munition and other work were examined, the result being that they were nearly all passed in Class A, which means that they are fit for general service.

n Lighting Offences - At the petty sessions on Saturday, before Messrs. J. Woolston, H. T. Daniels, E. Joyce, E. S. Bowman, R. Tidd, and R. Bell, Henry R. Peake, fishmonger, St. George’s-street, was fined 10s. for neglecting to shade a light in his shop on 6th Dec. Victor Briggs, farmer, Pickworth, was charged with not having side lights on his motor car, 2nd Dec. P.s. Chapman proved the case. Mr. M. H. Pugh appeared for the defendant, and admitted the facts. He stated, however, that it was a genuine case of misunderstanding, and he asked the Bench to dismiss the case so that defendant’s licence might not be endorsed. Defendant was fined. 10s.

n More Local Casualties - A late member of the Stamford police force - p.c. Harris - has just been killed in action. He belonged to the Lincolnshire Regiment, of which he was a non-commissioned officer. He was about 30 years of age, and a South Lincolnshire man. Privates Bert and Frank Betts, son of Mr. and Mrs. H. Betts, of Water-street, have been missing for some time, and it is believed that information has now been supplied which establishes beyond a doubt that Bert has been killed. His wife, who resides in London, has received his pocket-book - containing family portraits, &c. - and the sender states that he took it from a dead body at the front. The parents have four other sons in the Army. Information has been received that priv. Geo. Miles, of the Warwickshire Regiment, has been badly wounded, and is in hospital at Sheffield. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Miles, of Cooch’s court.

150 years ago

Market Deeping - Fatal Gun Accident. On Friday last a fatal accident occurred at the residence of Mr. Edw. Townsend, farmer, Deeping-gate. It appears that Mr. Townsend was at Stamford at the time the accident occurred, and previously to his going from home placed his gun in one corner of the room near a cupboard, the gun at the time being loaded and capped. Mrs. Townsend on going to the cupboard by some means caught her dress against the gun, and pulled it down. The gun on reaching the floor discharged itself, and the contents passed through the side of one of Mrs. Townsend’s legs and lodged in the breast of her niece, who was on a visit at her house, and who was sitting on a mat about three years fro the spot where the gun stood. Dr. Poole was immediately sent for, and was quickly in attendance, and everything was done for both sufferers that medical skill could suggest, but the child lived only about an hour. On Saturday an inquest was held on the body before A. Percival, Esq., coroner, when a verdict of accidentally shot was returned. Mrs. Townsend continues in a precarious state.

n On Monday last Mr. John Perkins, of Market Deeping, with his usual liberality, gave to the poor upwards of 20 tons of coals: each person received two cwt. On the same day Mrs John Bellars, of Maxey, gave to each of the widows and widowers of that parish, and the parish of Deeping-gate, four cwt. of coals.

n We regret to announce that the illness of the Marquis of Exeter took such a serious turn on Monday last that all the members of the family were telegraphed for, and arrived at Burghley in the course of that and the next day. On Tuesday evening a slight improvement took place, and yesterday his Lordship was reported to be somewhat better, having passed a more comfortable night; but he remains in a most critical condition.

n We have been requested to notice that, on and after the first Sunday in the next year, the clergy and churchwardens of the parishes of St. Mary and St. Michael in Stamford have unanimously agreed to alter the time of the Sunday evening service at both churches fro a quarter-past to half-past six o’clock. It is believed the arrangement will be generally acceptable to the congregation.

n We are requested to state that the several banks in Stamford have determined to close at 12 o’clock (noon) on Monday the 24th inst.

200 years ago

Rutland Association for the Prosecution of Felons. £50 10s reward. Whereas, late on Monday evening, or early on Tuesday morning the 17th day of December instant, a Hackney Blood Bay Mare, the property of Adjutant Faulkner, was feloniously Stolen from a Close in the parish of Egleton, near Oakham, in the county of Rutland.

Notice is hereby given, that whoever will give information of the offender or offenders, so that he or they be brought to justice, shall, on conviction, received a Reward of Five Guineas from the said Adjutant Faulkner; and the further sum of Five Guineas from Mr. William Jackson, Treasurer of the said Association; over and above the sum of Forty Pounds allowed by Act of parliament. And if more than one person was concerned in the above felony, and he will impeach his accomplice or accomplices, such person shall not only receive the above Reward, but application shall be made for his free pardon.

James Bullivant, Clerk to the said Association. Oakham, 18th Dec. 1816.

N.B. The said mare is rising seven years old, about fifteen hands one inch and a half high, with a star on her forehead, and a small blaze down her face; large saddle marks on each side of her withers, with small white spots on her back, switch tail (if not altered), four black legs, except the off fore foot, the same being white round the pastern joint, and a blemish on the outside of her near fore foot, occasioned by blistering.


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