For many years Joan Addenbrooke has been the chief organiser of the very successful Church and Country Fair held on the Playing Field in Braithwell.
Joan’s first recollection of the idea of holding a Country Fair comes from a Parochial Church Council (PCC) meeting when Derek Pawson suggested it as a means of raising money for the church. In particular, money was needed to boost the Fabric Fund of the ancient St James’ Church and its Churchyard. It was agreed unanimously to go ahead and the first Fair was held in 1985. This was when Rev. Ernest Eccles was Rector.
Christine remembered that similar events with stalls, a raffle and refreshments had been held previously in the village and that she had attended one in 1979 in the Orchard at the back of Peter Dunstan’s farm.
Dancing at Church Fair - 2007
Old Farm Machinery Display at Church Fair - 2007
The first Fair was held on the recently completed Playing Field, with refreshments served from the small portacabin where the playgroup was held. These were organised by Christine Fish with help from ladies and friends and they continued to do so until 2019.
The main intention was that this would be a community event, where peoples’ enjoyment should take priority over raising as much money as possible! Both Joan and Mike Addenbrooke were on the PCC at the time and before long Joan’s organisational abilities and meticulous planning led to her becoming the chief organiser of the event from 1992. The support of her family and close friends has been a vital element in its success. James, (Joan and Mike’s son) set up a website for the Fair in 2011 and shared the load of organising and setting up the Fair.
The Fair has been opened on numerous occasions by Bishop Jack, Bishop Cyril, John Holt, High Sheriff of South Yorkshire, Lord and Lady Scarborough and members of the clergy.
Over the years various different times of the year were tried, but soon the usual date in June became a fixture in the village calendar and the event became known as the Braithwell and Micklebring Church and Country Fair. This avoided school holidays and other regular events in the village such as the Wheelbarrow Races.
Without all the help and support of Derrick and Arnold Pawson and family, along with Richard and David Spencer and family, the Fair would not have been the success and size that it was!
The event grew and grew: the Spencer family did several displays of sheep shearing and sheep racing during the afternoon; ploughman’s lunches were provided (up to 40) for invited guests and for others to order and there were displays by the Gillian Banks School of dancing from Maltby. Vintage tractors, farming equipment and machinery were brought and displayed by Michael Watkins, Tom Butterfield and other members and enthusiasts from the farming community. There were also classic cars and motor bikes, Birds of Prey, and (a constant feature) Maltby Miners’ Welfare Band conducted by Terry Clifford, Musical Director. Also, lead by Judith Eames, hotdogs were served by members of the Guides and Brownies.
Once the Ruddle Centre was built, there was scope for expanding the refreshments and offering tables for £20 for local businesses to display their wares.
Arnold Pawson with Antique Tractor 2009
Bishop introducing Maltby Miners' Welfare Band - 2009
Scarecrow Competition - 2012
Marquees were hired to house perishable items in the event of bad weather and local people brought their own gazebos for their stalls. Phil Yardley from Braithwell Nurseries provided many of the plants sold on the plant Stall. Joan would order fresh flowers for regular decorators of the church to make into arrangements to be made up as prizes for the Flower and Bottle-bola. She bought ice cream and cornets, which were served just outside the door of the Ruddle Centre by Jackie Hawksworth.
Legendary Teas served in the Ruddle Centre - 2012
Sheep Shearing - Church Fair 2012
The excellent teas were legendary: hundreds of cups of tea and coffee were served – and washed up! Joan herself baked 18 dozen delicious buns plus as many as 20 tea loaves for many Fairs – some ‘regulars’ would order several dozen and they would be put on one side in tins for them.
The main fundraiser was the Grand Draw, with tickets printed in advance so they could be sold in the weeks leading up to the event. Margaret Bailey took charge of organising the folding of ticket stubs on the day, and putting them in a large revolving drum, insisting that people’s names and contact details were recorded on each stub.
The fair was the major fund-raising event for the church each year, but the Coronavirus pandemic put a stop to that – none has been held since 2019. Joan’s contribution cannot be over-estimated. As she says, “Without the kindness, help and support of the Community the Fair would not have been the success it was for so many years.”
Choir performance - 2009
Vintage Farm Machinery Display - 2012
Plant Sale - 2012