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[This article includes some text kindly sent by Dr Jimmy Whittaker, Jan 2020].
CHAIN (“Care in Hungerford, Action In Need”) is a voluntary organisation established in 1977 and operates a “manned “office open Mondays to Fridays from 9-11am in Kennet House, 19 High Street.
The opening ceremony was performed by Ron Tarry dressed as a blacksmith who welded together a length of chain. The welding gear for the occasion was supplied by Oakes Bros.
The first meeting took place on 1st June 1977, and an early decision was to appoint a Management Committee, namely:
Chairman - Bill Acworth
Secretary - Barbara Simmonds
Treasurer - Bobby Winser
Links Coordinator - Angela Pomroy
Office Manager - John Wilson
The Rev. Richard Kingsbury
Sheila Wilson (Consultant member)
Extracts from the first edition of CHAIN Mail, April 1978:
Welcome to the readers of the Hungerford Volunteer Force's own paper. Our name is CHAIN and we could not resist the title of CHAIN MAIL for our paper. CHAIN hopes to publish CHAIN MAIL on a regular basis and make it available free to all in the Hungerford area. It will tell you how you can help and be helped by CHAIN - and a lot more besides.
The Story so far.
Once upon a time a small group of people sat down and shared with each other their feelings about Hungerford, its strengths and its weaknesses. Eventually they called a public meeting, inviting people from the many voluntary organisations in the town and its residents, to share a vision of some kind of extended self-help scheme in the neighbourhood. 150 people came, and CHAIN was born. The date of birth was marked by the opening of the scheme's office behind 107 High Street (Tel:3727) on 1st November 1977. The office is open between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. also on Fridays from 5.30 pm. to 6.30 p.m
The CHAIN Management Committee, elected by the Steering Committee of 16 who were authorised by the public meeting to establish the scheme is at present:- Bill Acworth (Chairman), Barbara Simmonds (Secretary), John Wilson (Office Management), Angela Pomroy (Links co-ordination), Bobby Winser (Finance), Richard Kingsbury; with Sheila Wilson (Community Development Officer) as consultant member.
Sometime we will have an Anual General Meeting, but we cannot tell you everything in this first edition. Look out for the next issue.
Following a number of requests, CHAIN is pleased to announce that it is shortly to set up and maintain a diary of the town and local events. How often do we learn of events after they have occurred, or find that one conflicts with another. A Notice Board will be placed in the window of the Newbury District Council at 27 High Street, which will highlight events for the forth-coming week.
MONEY FROM WASTE! Peter Hibberd, (Hungerford 2116) has already started to collect. Save your newspapers! PETER WILL ARRANGE COLLECTION. We sell it for re-processing and make some much needed money. Inform Peter or the CHAIN OFFICE.
CHAIN Mall, Businesses who want a door to door advertisment through Chain Mail (approx. 2,000 houses) should contact the Chain Office.
What's it all about?
CHAIN cares and gives a variety of help to those in need. It has two objectives. The main one is to provide transport, together with a driver so that sick or disabled or elderly people, irrespective of their age, can attend appointments with doctors, dentists, chiropodists and hospitals. Membership of CHAIN is open to all Hungerford residents. CHAIN owns a “Chairman” Vehicle that can accommodate a person in a wheelchair. In addition, it can also carry another couple of passengers. CHAIN also runs the Handy bus which is provided by West Berkshire Council. This is a 10/11-seater minibus which has been modified to provide easy access to enable wheelchair-bound passengers to be carried. It gives regular transport for elderly and disabled people on shopping trips and visits to clubs in and around Hungerford as well as one-off tours and excursions.
The second objective of CHAIN is to offer advice and guidance to people who wish to undertake voluntary service in the local community by putting them in touch with individuals or statutory organisations seeking volunteer help.
Six times a year CHAIN organises a dinner in the Croft Hall for about 30 over-60s and four times a year produces and delivers a free magazine called Chain Mail which contains community information.
In 2003 Chain was awarded the first Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award for voluntary service in the community. See "CHAIN receives Jubilee Award", NWN 25 Sep 2003.