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Margaret Matthews 2006
Highfield Baptist Church

Memories of Margaret Matthews (nee Underwood)

The railings have gone now and the gate pillars
Highfield Baptist Church

I joined the Sunday school at Highfield when I was seven and continued through to the Bible class; among the dedicated Sunday school teachers I remember Miss Reynolds, who lived at the top house in Queen Street, who would walk to Highfield and back once if not twice on a Sunday, Mrs Millie Dickens, Mr Bert Clark who gave us 2s.6d. (a lot of money in those days) when we gained 80 marks or more in the Scripture exam. Mr John (Jack) Walker was our Sunday school Superintendent; a kind cheerful man, popular with us children, the Rev. Trevor Stout, Mrs Joan Waring who (if I remember rightly at the time was newly married to Peter) bravely took on the task of teaching a group of giggling young girls in the Bible class. She has told me that she quite enjoyed teaching us and that she was quite proud of us. After Bible class I taught in the Sunday school. We had socials (I recall Bill Dodson giving a rendition of “Albert and the Lion” at one of these), beetle drives, dances, Easter rambles etc. Sister Freda Moody and Mrs Wigley led Christian Endeavour meetings. The Rev. Alan Braybrookes was here when the Manse was built and he and Elsbeth used to invite the young people round on Sunday evenings.

The 2nd Rushden Girls' Life Brigade,
based at Highfield Baptist Church, on holiday in Norfolk in 1950

Back row: (l-r) Margaret Roberts, Audrey Barringham, Cathy Green, Jean & Joan Ellis, Sister Freda Moody.
3rd row: Diane Draper, Monica Bass, Mauren Coleman, 2nd Row: Pat Johnson, Margaret Underwood, Daphne Muddiman, Joyce Warner, Beryl Ellis.
Front row: Glenys Watts, Pat Dickens, Sonia Charles, Mary Barringham.

I also joined the 2nd Rushden Girls’ Life Brigade (GLB) at Highfield, led by Sister Freda Moody, who was very strict but this did not deter us. We really enjoyed working for badges, country dancing, games, competing with and sharing activities with other brigades in the county. One Sunday a month we would march round the area with the Boys’ Brigade Band, returning for a Church service. We were a big company; at the beginning of every meeting we had to line up in our age groups, cadets, juniors, seniors and officers in height order ready for S. Freda to inspect us; our knees and hands had to be clean and our uniforms correct, black serge long sleeved dresses (this material was quite itchy!) red belt, white socks, black shoes, black hat. I recall one time wearing a white belt and was promptly sent home to change it for my red one.

I think I had just turned eleven when we went to camp in Kessingland and on the train journey there, it was discovered that unfortunately one of our group had chickenpox (we had to keep quiet about it whilst on the train) and she had to be isolated from us and share sleeping quarters with S. Freda. We were allowed to go and talk to her through the window. The remainder of us slept in a long hut, probably used during the war; we had bunk beds down one side and the other side was occupied by girls, quite a few years older than some of us, from a youth club in London (that’s another story).

I was married to Jim at Highfield, our three children were dedicated and belonged to the Sunday school, through the second pastor, Rev John Weaver. God prompted me to go through Believer’s Baptism in 1988 and Jim in 1991.

When talking with friends of our young days at Highfield we agree that it was our second home and we couldn’t wait to get to the various meetings and events. I am grateful for the influence this all had on my life and pray that God’s work at Highfield will continue to change many lives in the future.

From Rushden Echo & Argus 15 June 1945

A “Gospel team” from Chelveston USAAF Station visited the Highfield Road Baptist Hall on Sunday evening, its members Fred W Myers, Irvan J Warren and H L Hardy, singing solos, duets and trios and offering personal testimonies. There was a large congregation. Sister Freda gave a talk on Holman Hunt’s picture “The Light of the World” and Mrs. K Howard was organist and accompanist.


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Written for display at the 70th Anniversary celebrations of the church Sept 2006
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