People from the past

Martyrs Scouts

The earliest troop was formed about 1911. Keith Brown was one of the early Scout Masters and during the First World War he was in the Scottish Highlanders, and was killed on his way home. The 57th Troop was started in 1926, aided by George Greenfield the Curate, who attended the 40th anniversary in 1966.

Charles Tinsley was well known as a member of the choir, but possibly even more so as a Scout Master. Being a Quartermaster Sergeant in the Leicestershire Regiment he had contact with Colonel Sir Robert Martin of The Brand at Woodhouse Eaves. As a result he allowed Charles Tinsley to take the scouts over to The Brand to camp, following which the Guides were allowed to go, and still do so at the present time due to the kindness of the present owner, Colonel Sir Andrew Martin.

Young People’s Union – YPU

This was led by Miss Winifred Goodman, the Deaconess who lived at 143 Upperton Road. She was always very proper and rather forbidding in her blue uniform with head veil. She was Deaconess at The Martyrs for 26 years, and died at Seascale in March 1947. There is a plaque to her memory in the church.

The Youth Club

The Youth Club was formed in 1946 at the time the Rev. William Martyr came to the parish. It soon became established with about thirty members meeting in the Den, the only room available in the Hall at that time since it was still being used by the army. Numbers rose to over a hundred and there was regularly sixty to eighty members meeting on Friday nights. Members included Ken Newcombe, Roy Richardson and Bob Ward son of George (Verger at the Martyrs) and Dorcas Ward. Fortnightly dances were held in the Hall on Saturday nights.

Youth Fellowship

There was a very active group at the Martyrs over many years and the names of some of the helpers and members will be remembered by many – Elaine Clifford, Helen Webb, Helen Proctor, Kathleen Woods, Ken and Mary Newcombe, David and Michael Cross, George Mercer and Brian Adams the renowned road walker who represented England in the Olympics.

Sunday School outings and Street Witness

Frequent visits were taken to the Charnwood Forest area. A sixpenny ticket on the Great Central Railway to Quorn and then a two mile walk to Hanging Stone Rocks, and then a walk back to Quorn. Visits were also made to Skegness. A five shilling (25p) ticket was taken from the Great Northern Station on Belgrave Road for a day trip to Skegness.

Morning Sunday School took place in church at 10.30am prior to the 11.00am Service and then they withdrew before the sermon. During Canon Raby’s time a Bible Class was held at 5.30pm on Sundays in the Vicarage and was taken by Joan Raby.

Occasionally Street Witness meetings were held on Sunday evenings, and in 1916 open air meetings were held at the corner of Westcotes Drive and Fosse Road South. In later years the choir and congregation would from time to time process up and down the nearby ‘Martyrs’ streets.

In the early years of the century a magic lantern was used in the church for illustrating the Easter stories.

During the last war there was, of course, no blackout to the church windows and therefore "evening" services took place in the afternoon.

The Working Party

The Friday Working Party was completely different to any working party on any other day of the week. The chief difference being that it was Mrs Pestridge’s Working Party. One did not decide to go to the Friday Working Party – it was strictly by invitation of Mrs Pestridge, and it was held at her home on Fosse Road South.

All sat at a large dining table presided over by Mrs P. Everyone except the young were addressed as Mrs or Miss. The chat and the work, in that order of importance, went on until Mary, a uniformed maid, brought in an enormous tea. On departure Mrs P would send some tea home for husbands, children or those living alone. It was at this point that Mr P would sometimes look in on us on his return from his High Street shop. He kindly had cushion covers we had quilted or embroidered made up for us professionally.

The Sale of Work was held in November in aid of the Church Missionary Society. Everyone had their special job and, unless asked, kept to it. Cakes and produce were presided over by Miss Knight. Miss Pass, a very enthusiastic maker of aprons and needle cases, usually manned the cash box on this occasion.

A Garden Party was held in July at Mr Rimington’s lovely old house at Newtown Unthank. Hats were worn by the ladies, and we were honoured by the presence of Vicar Cross, Mr Pestridge and the Kershaw's friends of the Pestridges, the Curate of the time and any children, Mr Rimington and his housekeeper, Miss Chamberlain. The main excitement of the afternoon was croquet, and although it was a magnificent church event, at times there was quite a lot of dirty work at the hoops!

Drama at the Martyrs

Members of the church and of various organisations have formed drama groups over the year. Light comedy and farce were the usual productions such as Dry Rot, Sailor Beware, Amorous Prawn and from time to time Gang Shows. Some of those involved include Dave King, Denis Lewitt, Bob Withers and his wife Dilys, Toni Tyler, Rosemary Matley, Joe Stacey and his daughter Jane, Henry Morton and his son John who became a Producer, Diane West, Angela Preston, Ken Ladbrooke, John Harding and John and Jennifer Stanton, Joan James and her daughters Christine and Valerie. John Collins was both actor and producer.

Hockey Team

Phyl Collins played in the mid 1930’s in a mixed team. Betty Tinsley took them to matches in her car.

Cricket Team

Roy Richardson, a founder member of the Martyrs team, provides the following information. Norman Crowe was instrumental in it’s formation in 1956, he was at one time the chairman, John Cansick was Secretary and Roy the Treasurer. There were fifteen regular players: Alf West was best bat and Don Melvin, still living in Braunstone, the best bowler. Infrequent players were Curate Roy Powdrill and Vicar Alan Cross who had a keen interest in cricket but ceased playing after suffering a heart attack in 1960. The team had it’s own badge and tie, and they played in the Mutual League on Saturday afternoons at Western Park. Stumps were drawn after about ten years.

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