Lightpill Ironworks Forces Gift Fund

From at least 1942 Lightpill Ironworks ran events to raise funds for their employees serving in H.M. Forces.

This poem written by Ernest Cook, draughtsman, for the fete held on 12th September1942 poignantly captures the mood. A similarly topical poem was written in 1943 and 1944.

By 1943 £1700 had been raised and the Christmas Entertainment programme lists the names of the employees who had joined H.M. Forces.

The programme for the 1944 summer fete, which ended Stroud’s “Holidays at Home Programme” is shown:

The event was reported in the Stroud News from which we know that the “Dribbling Football” was won by L. Jefferies and N. Close and Stroud Police won the Tug-of-War. Other winners included Miss P. Blanch for wild flowers, Mrs Cullis for jam and Mr E. Haines for honey and Mr J.R. Micklin of Rodbrough Avenue for a toy engine.

The event is also described by Ernest Cook in a letter to the troops;

The 1944 fete included a Flower, Fruit & Vegetable Show with the options to sell the produces for the Forces Gift Fund.

In September 1944 Ernest Cook wrote to the troops individually, adding the Stroud News press and, where possible, a copy of the fete programme. Looking ahead to Christmas he wrote in his distinctive style;

“You may rest assured that we shall be thinking of you, e’en though ye campaign in the collective cauldron of the Continent, swelter in the sultry Siamese sun, or sojourn in the shifting sands of the Sahara.”

He went on to inform them that the fund by then exceeded £2000; “This amount divided proportionately among the 72 of you in the service so far, gives a sum of over £50 to those of you who befit from the date of the fund’s inception … These amounts won’t be sufficient to set you up in business, of course, but they will be concrete reminders that we have been thinking of you contantly while you’ve been away from your ‘ain folk.”

The fundraising events were described and, in addition to the above, included;

And the letter ended:

With thanks to Ernest Cook’s daughter, Lyn, for all personal material & permission to use
Ernest Cook, left on Daniels’ shop floor c 1950 with a group of visitors.

Ernest Cook, second full figure on right at employees’ dinner c 1950 (first full figure is Lionel Carter)