Doreen Quinn

EARLY MEMORIES - Doreen Quinn
Doreen and Tom first attended Christ Church in 1957-58

One of the first times that Tom & I came to Rayleigh Congregational Church - before we had actually moved here - was when we were invited to a church Barn Dance at Great Wheatley Farm. As Tom said, as we arrived, "It's like stepping into The Archers!" Folk dancing on the lawn, others sitting on hay bales and a small orchestra (Brian Connor & friends) playing on the veranda. However it was the welcome we received which made the most impression.
It is the friendship and kindness that we received as a family that made the church so special to us. From the day we moved in to The Chase, when Mrs. Hall unexpectedly arrived to announce "Dinner's ready", to the time when Tom was flat on his back for weeks in the middle of the very severe winter of 62/63 when Norman Kingston, Alf Martin and Hubert Smith took it in turns to negotiate icy roads to drive him for treatment to Leigh several times each week. Other folk brought meals ready prepared for the family and I even found a sack of wood ready chopped for the fire on the doorstep one morning. There were so many practical kindnesses over so many years from so many people that it's impossible to recount them all.
It is inevitable, given the years that both Tom and I were involved in youth work in the church that many memories come from our experiences. In one of our very early Y.P.F. Camps (fore-runner of Church Camp), the minister at Woodham Ferrers, Revd. Frank Miller, previously from this church, suggested that we borrow two pews so that we might sit more comfortably to have our meals, so after tea two men and four young ladies went to collect them. Now the church is some distance away and our pew was heavy, so halfway back we decided to stop for a rest. We hadn't realized that we were beside a telephone box which was occupied. The man finished his call and emerged into the dusk. His face was a picture of amazement when he saw a seat - which he was sure hadn't been there earlier- filled with lovely young ladies! We often wonder whether he returned the following day but found no seat. Had he really seen it?
One of the highlights for the G.B. girls was when they performed in a massed club swinging item, accompanied by the Southend Band, at the Royal Tournament in the presence of The Queen Mother (our patron) who graciously acknowledged their contribution. A couple of days earlier they had also appeared on the Blue Peter TV programme. We didn't have a colour television then so were invited elsewhere to watch and had the doubtful pleasure of seeing one of our daughters, as the only girl to have rolled up the sleeves of the red leotard she was wearing. Trust a Quinn to get something wrong! (She was hot at the rehearsal, she said) Several of our girls achieved the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award and went to Buckingham Palace or St James' Palace to receive them. One was awarded posthumously to Lyn Desmond who had been born with a heart defect but still joined in all she could, but died suddenly just after finishing the Award. This was presented by the Duke to her parents, privately and sympathetically.
Other church functions we enjoyed were the social evenings, when party games were played. I well remember the twinkle in Alf Martin's eyes as he played "Winking" and the mad scrambles we had in the game of "Bigamy".
So, fun and friendship have been important, but above all, the growth in Christian understanding, love and commitment, nurtured by ministers and others over the years, more so.