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Margaret Pike

Margaret Pike’s in-laws Geoffrey & Gladys Pike were named in a Berkhamsted Review article by Pam Macpherson about the Hospice’s early days, as being part of a ‘solid volunteer force’ in place by the end of 1979.

‘Indispensable,’ she writes, ‘were Zina Down’s bazaar/craft group, which included exuberant Geoffrey Pike and his late wife Gladys...’

Here, Margaret, 70, who has continued Geoffrey and Gladys’ legacy of support as a Home Box collector herself since 1983, shares her memories...

“My mother-in-law Gladys was a needlework teacher at Egerton Rothesay School in Berkhamsted and my father-in-law Geoffrey worked as a sales rep at John Dickinson’s paper mill in Apsley so it’s hardly surprising that their talents and generous community spirit were harnessed to help start the Hospice.

“They were members of Berkhamsted Baptist Church and very Christian. From what I remember, they, the Macphersons and Eileen and Stuart Fisher (the Hospice’s first treasurer) were in the same Ecumenical Lent Group – there were lots of them around the town at the time amongst the different faith denominations – and word about starting a hospice spread from there as they started to involve friends.

“I was married to their son Alan and would have been in my mid-thirties in 1983 when Pam Macpherson came to our Young Wives group at Berkhamsted Baptist Church and gave a talk about the Hospice’s (Home) Boxes scheme – a fundraising idea they’d got from visiting a hospice in Swindon.

“She was very passionate about the cause and spoke about the value of Hospices at a time when we didn’t know much at all about the concept of hospices – it all being fairly new.

 “But that talk – and my in-laws support for the Hospice - was the catalyst for my involvement as a volunteer. Pam Macpherson really inspired me to action.

 “People were asked to donate 10p a week and at first it was only in Berkhamsted. Since 1983 I’ve had my own Home Box and I collect 13 or 14 from Billet Lane, Dell Field and one or two friends of mine so I quickly became a coordinator. If someone new moves in I try to put a letter through the door to encourage them to join the scheme. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

“A lot of my box holders are still the same so they know me very well. Two of them are the originals. I just tend to empty out my purse if I’ve been shopping, see what 1p’s, 2p’s and 5p’s I’ve got and chuck them in and it all adds up. Sometimes people give me money if I’ve done something for them like shopping for a neighbour and that goes in too.

“Most people have a box and they give you their small change but there are some people who will always give you a cheque rather than have a box but that’s fine – it’s all money and usually the cheques are bigger than the amount in the boxes.

“It’s not as easy as it used to be to persuade people to have a box but all you can do is try to point out that it’s a local charity and you never know if or when somebody in your own family might need it.

The big difference in those days was that we had to count the money, which included tiny halfpennies!” she said. “Now, thankfully, the Hospice has volunteers who help in finance and do that for us.”

Gladys died in 1986, aged 73, and Geoffrey died in 2001, aged 90.

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