R. N. L. I.
It was founded as a very modest organisation in 1981, with three members:- Jonathan Virden (Chairman), Margaret Kremer (organiser of house-to-house collections that raised about £ 100 at that time), and Tessa Fyson (Secretary, treasurer and souvenirs), named the Yalding and District Branch of R.N.L.I. This was together with a cheese and wine evening, coffee morning, ploughman's lunch, and a souvenir stall at the Village Fair, raising in total £ 200 to £ 300. After an initial decline Tessa was asked in 1987 to revive it, and this time it became a Ladies Lifeboat Guild with Nicky Grainger as Secretary.
Over the years it has become more ambitious and raises about £ 3,000 each year, with house-to-house collections topping £ 500. The main annual event - and quite a social event - is the Summer Supper. These have proved very popular and tickets have to be strictly limited. This has been increasingly financially successful, raising approximately £ 500 in the early years to over £ 900 at the 1999 supper. These are held in the homes and gardens of generous well-wishers who have helped in every way possible. To date the Guild has had the support of the owners of Downs House, Court Lodge, Lees Lodge, Lees House, Parsonage Oasts, Parsonage Farm, and Little Cheveney.
More recently Summer lunches have been introduced, proving to be a popular fund raiser amongst the older supporters, and have been held at the home of the current Chairman Roma Farrier. Of course, that old war-horse the Coffee Morning, is very popular especially for Xmas stocking fillers, and Christmas cards, and always held at the beginning of November to catch that seasonal trade. The R.N.L.I. financial success has been due to the generous village support.
Sunshine Lodge at the end of Kingsland Cottages opposite the Post Office was the local branch of the “Army” from at least 1936 until the early 1960's. At about 1955 it was Brigadier Davidson who came with his wife to serve our local community. He was a short bubbly character who will be remembered by many with great affection. The vicar, Rev'd Geoffrey Gray, and the Brigadier co-operated together on many occasions, especially Harvest and Remembrance. The fruit cake and tea trolley was a regular feature of the hop garden scene, welcomed by visitor and local alike, and served from a gleaming chrome urn.
The Army held a Sunday School for about 18 children, and a fellowship meeting for women on a Thursday called Home League. Outings were organised for those connected to the groups, or who wished to go, with the destination being the seaside, which was usually Broadstairs. One feature that many will remember was at Christmas time when the Brigadier would play records of carols from his top attic window, that could be heard over a wide area of the village, and reminded us of the meaning of the season.