…The Toy Service

Rev J H Coram Davies

The Toy Service is a long-standing tradition for the first Sunday of December, dating back to December 1951, in which members of the congregation donate toys to be given to, originally, “needy children”, and in later years, those spending Christmas in local domestic violence shelters. Acting Church Secretary Maurice Large writes: “The background to this is that this was the first Christmas for Rev. J. H. Coram Davies, who was the immediate successor to Herbert Barnes. The Davies had a son Huw (they were Welsh) who was my age. When they left us, they went back to Wales, and Huw sadly died several years ago.

“In the early days the Sunday School children were always involved and later, after John Storer had come as Minister and helped us form a UYPL (Unitarian Young People’s League) for us as we got older, we used to join in singing carols from the gallery from 6pm to 6.30pm when the service started.

“The Inspector Stephen Heathcote referred to in the 1952 Calendar was an Inspector in the River Tyne Police (then a separate police force) who was a member of the church until he retired and moved south to become Harbourmaster in (I think) Plymouth. Mrs Davidson, who supplied the trees for many years, was the grandmother of Lilian Gardner (née Teasdale).  I think that when Mrs Davidson died, Mrs Teasdale provided the tree”.

Toy Service entry in the December 1952 calendar
Toy Service entry in the December 1951 calendar