ROWAN MANTELL

Help­ing out and fundrais­ing are bet­ter than hol­i­days for vil­lage stal­wart Glenda Tooke. This month she will be mak­ing money for char­i­ties with an ex­hi­bi­tion of archive pic­tures and a flower fes­ti­val, she told ROWAN MANTELL

EDP Norfolk - - News -

It was a priv­i­lege to talk to in­spi­ra­tional Glenda Tooke, whose fam­ily has been get­ting things rolling in Rollesby for gen­er­a­tions.

FOR SEVEN gen­er­a­tions Glenda Tooke’s fam­ily has lived in the same vil­lage, wor­shipped in the same chapel and, for the past five gen­er­a­tions, lived in the same house.

Gen­er­a­tions of the fam­ily have or­gan­ised vil­lage events, vol­un­teered at the vil­lage school and served on com­mit­tees in and around Rollesby, near Great Yar­mouth.

Glenda, now 62, of Holly Farm in the vil­lage, has run fetes, flower shows, char­ity lunches and cof­fee morn­ings, raised money for good causes as close as the vil­lage hall and as far away as Romania – and ev­ery Christ­mas gives an orange to each child at the vil­lage pri­mary school.

Seven gen­er­a­tions of Glenda’s fam­ily have been stal­warts of the lo­cal Methodist church, play­ing vi­tal roles in vil­lage life for longer than any­one re­mem­bers. Glenda, who was awarded the Bri­tish Em­pire Medal last year for ser­vices to the com­mu­nity, loves car­ry­ing on the fam­ily traditions.

“It’s prob­a­bly a fam­ily and Methodist thing,” she says. “Holly Farm was al­ways used to give lunch or tea to vis­it­ing preach­ers.

“The rea­son I do it is my Chris­tian faith. I love help­ing. I usu­ally have a smile on my face and not a lot fazes me. I or­gan­ise events but with­out friends who help man the stalls, serve re­fresh­ments and so on I could do noth­ing. But most of all I thank my hus­band who is al­ways help­ing to load the car or set up ta­bles and chairs and just put up with me!”

To­gether they have raised around £100,000 for lo­cal, na­tional and in­ter­na­tional good causes.

It was Glenda’s great-great grand­par­ents who first bought two cot­tages in the vil­lage and built Holly Farm on the site. Her grand­fa­ther lived there for 80 years, her mum for 83 and now Glenda has lived in the house for 60 of her 62 years. “I love my home. It’s not large or fancy, but just home,” she says.

Over the week­end of May 13 and 14 she will host a dis­play of some of the pho­to­graphs, maps and news­pa­per cut­tings her fam­ily has col­lected over the decades, putting on the ex­hi­bi­tion in aid of the vil­lage hall and Rollesby’s Happy Rollers club for the over 60s. There will be birth­day cards dat­ing back

to 1910, plus pho­to­graphs of chil­dren at the vil­lage school in the 1960s and 70s.

“I love fundrais­ing, work­ing out new games and events,” says Glenda. “But it’s get­ting harder as char­i­ties need more money and there are fewer peo­ple to help.”

For many years she or­gan­ised most of the games at school fetes in Rollesby and Martham and was a school gov­er­nor and chair of the PTA. But even she can­not com­pete with her grand­fa­ther. “Grandad Sid­ney Gaze was a school gov­er­nor for 66 years!” says Glenda.

Ev­ery Christ­mas she car­ries on the fam­ily tra­di­tion of giv­ing each pupil an orange. “I’m not sure when the or­anges started but my mother con­tin­ued it, as do I. It’s the tra­di­tion, I could give the equiv­a­lent money but I’ve been told it wouldn’t be the same.”

And she also be­gan her own Christ­mas tra­di­tion. “For 30 years I’ve been col­lect­ing Christ­mas trees,” says Glenda. “They range from an inch high to eight feet high and are made from glass, wood, pot­tery, knot­ted, metal, all medi­ums. I now have 1,300!

“When I was 50 I had an open house with do­na­tions for the Sal­va­tion Army and dis­played about 250 trees. Since 2005 I have or­gan­ised a tree fes­ti­val at dif­fer­ent Methodist churches in the cir­cuit - Martham, Lud­ham, Freethorpe, Hemsby and Pot­ter Heigham rais­ing about £10,000 in all. This Christ­mas we will be back at Martham from De­cem­ber 8-10, with more than 1,000 trees.”

For the past 30 Au­gusts Glenda has hosted a cof­fee morn­ing in her garden in aid of Methodist char­i­ties. She also or­gan­ises an an­nual Macmil­lan char­ity cof­fee morn­ing and has been a mem­ber of the par­ish coun­cil for more than 30 years, fol­low­ing both her grand­fa­ther and her fa­ther, who each served as chair­man. She is the trea­surer of var­i­ous lo­cal Methodist or­gan­i­sa­tions, a for­mer trea­surer and pres­i­dent of the vil­lage Women’s In­sti­tute and says: “I’m the trea­surer for most things in Rollesby in­clud­ing the vil­lage hall!”

It was her hus­band who first heard the news about the Bri­tish Em­pire Medal. “We open each other’s post and when I walked in one day he said ‘What have you done now?’ Glenda re­calls. “I thought I had a speed­ing or park­ing ticket! I was amazed but very pleased.”

Glenda and her hus­band, David, have a daugh­ter, Rachel, who lives near Bury St Ed­munds with their two grand­chil­dren.

“I would rather fundraise than hol­i­day, and I’m al­ways think­ing of what’s com­ing up next and find­ing new games,” she said.

For ex­am­ple, over the May Day bank hol­i­day week­end the fundrais­ing flower fes­ti­val at Martham Methodist church, linked with the vil­lage’s scarecrow week­end, is themed around num­bers. Glenda’s dis­play cen­tres around Psalm 23 – and Deal or No Deal. “There are 23 boxes in the TV show,” she ex­plains. Other dis­plays will riff on themes of K9, Four Wed­dings and a Fu­neral, Goldilocks and the Three Bears…

With seven gen­er­a­tions of his­tory be­hind her, a heart and tal­ent for fundrais­ing, and at least £100,000 raised for good causes, it all adds up to good news for Rollesby and way be­yond.Š

“I would rather fundraise than hol­i­day”

Above: Glenda Tooke pic­tured just af­ter she re­ceived her Bri­tish Em­pire Medal

Right: Holly Farm, Rollesby, pre 1933. Su­san­nah Gaze with her neph­ews

Above: The open­ing of Rollesby Vil­lage Hall in 1959. The beau­ti­ful­ly­dressed lit­tle girl pre­sent­ing flow­ers to Lady Ralphs is Glenda Tooke. Her grand­fa­ther, Sid­ney Gaze, is seated and her mum is wait­ing to lift her off the stage

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