INTERVIEW with Pat Channon ( 28th January 2010)
A year ago we carried out some trial interviews and this was one we did with Pat Channon who lives in Ashingdon and who has become known by so many for her community activities. Soon we hope to present an up-to-date interview with Pat to see what had happened over the past year. This is what she had to say earlier
A Life of Serving
Pat Channon is a little lady with a massive heart. Over the years she has been well known in Rochford and Ashingdon for her community activities.
Rochford Life: Pat, tell us a little about yourself about how you got into so many community activities
Pat: Well I started with a little shop in Southchurch Road when I was fifteen and a half. I was brought up in shops. My father always had shops. After that I next went on to work for Hogg Robinson, they were Lloyds Underwriters, and after that went to London and worked in a bank, the Royal Bank of India and after that I decided it would be nice to have another shop.
RL: What sort of shop was it?
Pat: Rutlands, in Rochford. It must have been about 1970 for about six years, quite a high class confectioners, glass cases with hand-made chocolates. but eventually I had to give that up because my mother was getting older and not so well, so we moved up into Ashingdon and I looked after her there.
RL: What happened after that?
Pat: Well, cutting as long story short, I became a Christian and went to Rocheway Evangelical Church which eventually became Rochford Community Church, and was there for about twenty years before moving to Ashingdon Elim Church when Roger my husband had to give up driving.
RL: So how did your community activities start?
Pat: Well it all started with a coffee morning in the home of one of the church members, which I enjoyed and decided to start doing the same in our own home. We started with just two people coming and they gradually built and built. I think that was once a fortnight then. It gradually got bigger and bigger until we virtually had no room in the front room and then filled the house. We used to have speakers in for just a ten minute slot, until one day the speaker couldn’t come and I found myself doing it, and found I really loved it.
RL: What was the next step?
Pat: Well we were outgrowing the house and we did various things like teas in the garden as well and so one day we booked the Ashingdon Memorial Hall. At first it seemed a bit strange and people weren’t so keen about the venue. We would have different speakers, such as the lady from the Hospice, and somebody coming in to speak about education, and we soon seemed to be getting about fifty or sixty people in the hall. My pastor in Rochford suggested we think about doing lunches and so I started doing fish and chip lunches to make it easy, which of course is still going, having been going for I don’t know how many years now. For the first eight years that Roger and I did it, I spoke at all of them and really loved it. We did a whole lot of different things including Tramps Suppers and then Carol Services at Christmas time, and then Barn Dances.
RL: When did the Barn Dances start?
Pat: I’m not sure. I’ve done about seventeen Barn Dances now. The first one was about thirty eight people and by the time I had to retire from them about 120. I did get to the stage when I started dreading them because of worrying about not coping with the numbers. We also did four ‘Sixties’ evenings with music from the sixties and they got quite big. When Roger died about three years ago, I knew that a lot of those things had to end. He had been ill for about five years but I just carried on because I was just doing them automatically without a lot of thought. I suppose it was about a year before he died I said to my pastor, now in Ashingdon, that I wanted to come out of the work, but I carried on for about a year after Roger died. The work carried on but without me now. I don’t do anything that I did before, just the Alzheimer's coffee morning, because we used to have so many things to sell for charity and I just don’t have the energy to do it anymore or, of course, Roger’s help to do it. We did last November but I was worn out and I just felt I can’t do this again.
RL: Is that the end then?
Pat: No, I did think of having teas in the garden again for smaller groups for various charities.
RL: You’ve done things for a number of charities haven’t you?
Pat: Oh yes, loads! I think we’ve probably collected about twenty thousand for charity from the various activities. We did Fair Havens Hospice, Little Havens, Essex Air Ambulance, Sue Ryder, Essex Horse and Pony, the Salvation Army. We started collecting two years ago for Alzheimer’s and I think we’ve probably collected about four thousand through the different events. But I’ve come to the end of it now – it’s very strange
RL: Looking back, what are the things you’ve enjoyed doing most?
Pat: Everything! I loved the Barn Dances, I loved the Tramps Supper, I loved whatever we did. We often had more than one or two things a week and looking back I don’t know how we did it; it was probably just because we enjoyed it so much.
RL: You must have touched a lot of people over the years with all these events?
And with that one word we see the humility behind these years of seeking to help the community. There will be many in Ashingdon especially (but often much wider afield) who can look back with some nostalgia on those many events driven by this little lady. If you have memories, we’d love to hear from you.