A History of YALDING, Kent, England

The International Red Cross was founded in 1864 at a convention in Geneva to provide care for the casualties of war. National branches such as the British Red Cross were incorporated in 1908.
Within a few months of the start of the First World War Yalding, mainly through collections had raised £ 50 for the war work of this society. Regular concerts were organised to raise money. These were chiefly by Miss Bertha Hards, who on the 3rd of February 1915 enlisted the help of three singing friends, who were Miss Eve, Miss Parks, and Mr `Jack' Hubble, of Kent County Cricket fame. In 1916, as a result of the regular involvement a Yalding Red Cross Working Party met in the Parish Room on Wednesdays at 5.30. The Secretary and Treasurer of this group was Lady Victoria Villiers, of Kenward. Laddingford held `Rummage Sales' in May of both 1915 and 16, and it was stated that `little Laddingford has not been behind hand in supporting this good work'. The secretary organised a hop-bin at Kenward farm and was pleased to see helpers there to pick with her, and on August 9th that same year of 1916 a most enjoyable Fete was arranged on the Soap Works Recreation Ground. A wide range of entertainment's were provided, followed by a concert and finally dancing on the grass. The following April the 11th an entertainment in the Boys' Schoolroom was arranged by Mr Baker, Mrs Baker, Miss Udall, Miss Robbins, and members of the school staff. An `American Auction' followed the musical and dramatic programme.
Another successful Fete was held on Monday 6th of August 1917, this time in the Vicarage meadow. Again the school staff organised a splendid day, with the `ringleader ` of Mrs Baker, ably backed by Mrs Cartwright, Miss Udall, and Mr and Mrs Hurford, acting as fellow conspirators in a determined effort to extract money out of other people's pockets. One event held that day was a `Baby Show' arranged by Nurse Rimmell, attracting 47 entrants. Cheveney Institute played a valuable role in both wars, and on this first occasion housed wounded soldiers who were mainly Belgian. In early 1918 they voiced their part in the war effort, and gave a very successful entertainment at which a collection was held for the Red Cross that realised £ 13 2s.
The work of the Red Cross during the Second World War was very well supported in Yalding as Miss E Margaret Bowring, who lived with her sister Freda in Downs Farm House, was the County Commandant for Kent. She had a team of staunch supporters, who included Mrs Perrins of The Orchard, the Yalding Prisoners of War Fund Organiser, making a monthly collection of donations. Margaret kept the village aware of international Red Cross news through the pages of the Parish Magazine, and the Society also arranged a series of six First Aid lectures at Cleaves Hall given by a Dr. Kirkman, commencing at 7 pm on Tuesday October 6th 1942.
One seasonal event during which the Red Cross had always been active was that of hop-picking, under the direction for many years of its Lady Superintendent, Miss Monica Perrins. A typical example was that in 1942 a dispensary was opened in Cleaves Hall from Wednesday 27th of August until September the 20th. Initial enquiries and waiting room facilities with `chairs and illustrated papers', were performed in a hut located on The Green. Some 268 cases were attended to, and the whole project proved very popular, helped by beautiful summer weather.
The group held regular meetings in Cleaves Hall often with talks on a variety of subjects. During March of 1962 Dr Elizabeth Fincham gave a series of four lectures on Special Diseases.
At a meeting in April 1964 it was reported that Miss Margaret Bowring was in a Red Cross convalescent home in Brighton. The group continued its meetings for the next two years, but there are no more on record after the announcement of her passing, at Pembury Hospital on Sunday 14th of August 1966, five weeks before her 80th birthday.