Do you know about the Almshouses in Old Amersham?

They are in two separate buildings known as “Days” and “Drakes” in the High Street, both bequeathed centuries ago by former philanthropic residents of the town, and now managed by Amersham United Charities. They are available to be occupied by less well-off single men and women from the Parish of Amersham with Coleshill and the surrounding area. There is no age constraint, but applicants must be considered suitable for living in these small communities, and must be able to look after themselves.

Days Almshouses

The Day’s Almshouses are in a row of terraced houses on the North side of the High Street and run back from the road to the River Misbourne. This listed Grade 2 building is not visible from the road and access is through a narrow entrance off the street. There are nine individual properties in the terrace which was built in 1857. The accommodation in these dwellings is very restricted with a small living room and tiny kitchen area, and a bedroom and shower room on the first floor accessed by a narrow steep and angled staircase. The Charity intends to redevelop these dwellings to provide seven, more spacious, properties within the basic building structure having a straight staircase able to accommodate a stair lift and a downstairs cloakroom, again suitable for modern living by often elderly people. Plans have been drawn up and the necessary planning approval and listed building consent has been obtained. Fundraising has started for this major improvement project, and it is hoped that work can start in Spring 2016. An Appeal for funds has been launched, with Countess Howe as Patron.

Drakes Almshouses

The Drake’s Almshouses on the South side of the High Street and visible from the road date back to 1657 and the building is a listed Grade 2* property. There were originally six dwellings, but in 1997 they were converted and refurbished to provide four, with increased accommodation and modern conveniences to make them more appropriate for 21st century living. All the accommodation is on the ground floor.

It is the responsibility of the Trustees of the Charity to ensure that these Almshouses are sympathetically restored and maintained as part of the important heritage of Old Amersham, and that they continue to be of benefit to the local community.
Ian Arthurton
Chairman of Trustees

The harvest supper on Friday 9th October 2015 went well and was enjoyed by 94 villagers. Although not strictly a fund-raising event, £1,180 was raised from the profits, with lower expenses than last year. The money was sent to the St Lawrence Home of Hope in Zambia to fund the salary of a teacher for at least 18 months.

Having now supported the school for five years it is felt to be time to support a different charity but only if a new committee can be found and led by at least three members of All Saints’ congregation, together with three members of the old committee, Carol Hallchurch, Bernadette Nolan and Denise Nowlan. Patsy Wright-Warren and Marigold Curling, both founder members of the Charity committee, have resigned together with Sinn Proctor. Thanks go to them for their tireless work and generous time given over many years. It would, however, be much appreciated if volunteers could come forward to help set up the new committee and identify a new charity.

Would anyone willing to take on this valuable work please contact the All Saints’ church wardens, Dumpy Swerling or Howard Pool.
Helen Spencer


The All Saints Harvest Charity was set up by the Church Committee in 1985 as an expression of Christian charity, especially towards very poor people in developing countries. The Committee felt that Harvestide, when we were giving thanks for the bounty of our harvest here, would be an appropriate time to remember and work for those who do not have this good fortune and who exist in poverty.

After considerable discussion it was decided that the money raised should go towards the Mobile Tuberculosis Unit at Raphael – the Ryder Cheshire Foundation’s home at Dehra Dun in Northern India. As Patsy Wright-Warren subsequently became Projects Officer for that Foundation and visited Raphael each year, she was able to observe how the money was being spent and to bring back reports. This was reviewed regularly and continued as the sole beneficiary until 1996, when the Church Committee decided it would chose an additional charity, from proposals put forward by villagers, which would receive 30% of the profits. That continued for five years until no further local charities were proposed.

Each year a fundraising event was held, arranged by a small Organising Committee. The profit made was matched from the funds of All Saints Church. In 1994, when the profits became more substantial, it was decided that there should be a ceiling of £1,000. In addition there have been many personal donations.

The Charity set itself a target of raising enough money to provide life saving treatment for the cure of tuberculosis for as many patients being treated by Raphael as there were men, women and children in Coleshill – approx 600. Over the 18 years, £37,623 was raised of which £33,539 went to Raphael. The cost of a successful course of treatment for TB was £50, so it can be claimed that the money raised cured 664 sufferers. The Raphael scheme has now been closed down and the service taken over by the government. During the five years, £4.084 went to other causes.

The Church Committee then looked for another charity with a local focus and decided to support the Rosanna Hospital in Kurdistan, founded by Marigold Curling. Fundraising for that started in 2004. Because events were no longer necessarily held at harvest time, it was decided to drop the word “Harvest” from the name and be known as the “All Saints Charity”. Since then events have raised £19,188 which has contributed towards the payment of senior salaries and buying much needed medical equipment.

Marigold has let us know that the Americans are now making funds available for such work in Kurdistan and our support is no longer needed.

We therefore have the opportunity to find another charity. The Church Committee said that it should be overseas, where the needs are so much greater, and that there should be a local contact so that we can get up to date information as to how the money will be spent.

Having considered several charities put forward, the committee has decided to support the St Lawrence Home of Help in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. It is an orphanage, which cares for about 20 boys who had been sleeping rough on the streets and were homeless. They are planning to build this up to give the boys proper shelter and education and hope for the future. More information will be available as our planning progresses.

December 2010


Update - Winter 2013

This year Nick, Pippa and I were lucky enough to have a three week holiday in Africa starting off in Zambia to see Victoria Falls, so we used the opportunity for Pippa and I to go and visit the St Lawrence Home of Hope for a day.

After a flight over spectacular scenery we were met in Lusaka and taken to the Home where we were greeted warmly by the committee of Nuns from the Catholic Women's League and other members of the team who run the Home. I was immediately struck by how organised the Home was run and how happy the boys in their care were. (There were 40 boys and 3 young girls). The setup of the buildings was better than I had imagined and although the boys have very basic
amenities (bunk beds but no personal belongings), they have an outside yard area to play football, cricket and basketball. They also have a common room/playroom where they have a second hand play station 3, very popular for football games, but that is all. They do not have a computer, toys, books, pens or paper, things which our children take for granted.

All the boys have come from either an abused background or their parents have died from Aids and as girls are always taken in by extended family to do domestic chores, the boys from affected families are left to fend for themselves on the streets of Lusaka. The lucky ones are found by the Nuns, huddled in ditches by the roadside, and encouraged to go to the Home for food and shelter. (We saw this on our journey through Lusaka to the Home).

In Zambia there is no safety net or state social system, so if it weren't for the Catholic League of Women these boys would die. The number of boys found in this situation is growing and as the present space is cramped the Nuns are hoping that the government will allow them to lease more land, at a peppercorn rent, to dig a new bore hole for clean water for the Home (from funds we raised last year) and allow space for a new skills centre to be built so that the boys can be trained in skills useful for their future independence when they have to leave the Home.  This is a way forward in helping the boys out of the cycle of poverty and gaining independence away from the Home by the time they reach eighteen. Supporting the Home in this way means more opportunities for future generations too.

On behalf of the All Saints' Charity, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your generous donations so far and please continue to support this worthwhile charity by coming to the next event we shall be holding in the Village Hall on the 22nd March 2014. It will be a musical extravaganza!  More details will be available in the New Year.

I'd also like to thank all those parents and children of Coleshill School who have donated their unwanted toys and books to the Home of Hope for Christmas. They will be sent this week by air freight to arrive in time for Christmas!  THANK YOU.
Carol Hallchurch
on behalf of the All Saints Committee

From the moment we arrived in Lusaka I felt like it could have been a family home, we were given such a genuine warm welcome by all the people we met.

The Brother at the Home has to be one of the most inspiring people I have ever met in the entire 16 years of my life, even though I had only talked to him for a short while, what he is doing now, and what he has planned for the future of these children is truly inspiring.

It is one thing to see it on your televisions, news reports and computer screens, but to see it in person is just incomparable and the compassion you have for these people greatly exceeds anything I have ever felt.

When we drove past, Beatrice (the sister) showed us where the boys slept in the street. My heart literally sank when I saw the tiny drainage pipes and corrugated rivers filled with trash. (Imagine sleeping in a dirty, diseased, rat infested tunnel -no bigger in circumference than your Council recycling bin). Beatrice said anything from 8 boys could be found living in one small pipe. To think of myself complaining to my mum when I'm cold at home, or when we don't receive a comfy bed at a hotel – it really put things into perspective.

To say the children had little would be an understatement, (the pictures below show). The children had a bed but some would share. Before we came they had two footballs which you could tell were heavily utilised, a small kitchen with the bare minimum cooking equipment and hardly any appliances (gas is too expensive so cooker is unused).

In the hours that we spent in Lusaka, I took more out of it and learnt more from it than I could have done in a year spent at home. When you see what the Brother has done for these children: he has helped give them a home to live, prepares food to eat, educates, encourages, actively seeks their families to re-unite the children and, most importantly for me, he gives these amazing children hope for the future and a true family in which to pursue it.
Pippa Hallchurch


As is traditional in Coleshill on the second Friday of the month of October, the villagers and their friends gathered in the village hall for the annual village Harvest Supper.

Just over 100 guests were greeted with a welcome drink and served lasagne with salad and French bread. Favoured wine from the Wine Society was available to purchase as were raffle tickets. As we have come to expect, the villagers added to the gastronomic delight by generously providing a wonderful array of delicious desserts. It seemed the creamy and the chocolate ones were the most popular!

The raffle prizes were tempting and a magnificent £500 was raised for the Samaritans in Amersham. All due to the hard work of Barbara and her helpers. The early arrival of Barbara's grandchild made the task all the more difficult, so very well done!

£75 was also given to each of the following village events: The Carol Service Tea, The Flower Festival and The Village Day. We also bought 7 large dishes to add to the 7 we purchased last year, for the main courses.

Thank you to everyone for their support and please join us next year, same time, same place!
Barbara, Carol, Gail, Gillian and Judi

PS A big thank you to all those who helped whether it be selling tickets, buying and serving wine, setting up tables or in any other way and especially to Pippa who gamely helped with the washing up!

And Gillian has 2 tea towels and a grey and white spotty scarf unclaimed!


School Aid are a local charity based nearby in Hedgerley who have asked us to include their information on our website. They are particularly in need of volunteers, transport of items to ports, and books and supplies.

A good education helps the escape from poverty and gives children hope for a better future

Each day millions of children in Africa are unable to attend school, often due to a simple lack of basic school equipment. Schools in deprived areas struggle to provide educational tools such as books, stationery and even chairs for their teachers and students, despite the best efforts of their communities. Without a good education, the escape from poverty is impossible.

School Aid's mission is to support the advancement of education in disadvantaged schools and communities in Africa by providing an environmentally friendly recycling service.

Our valued volunteers collect materials from local schools and other donors in the UK, and then sort and pack the boxes (based on the individual requirements of the schools in Africa that we are partnered with). Finally, we ship everything directly to the African schools in need.

School Aid's success is reliant upon people like you to provide us with financial support to enable our UK volunteers to collect, sort and load the shipments to Africa, as well as a constant flow of good quality text books (all levels), reading books, reference books, stationery, art and craft supplies, science and sports equipment, school uniforms, school shoes, sports kits, football boots, trainers, stackable tables and chairs, and other educational resources that are not readily available in many of the African countries that we support (e.g. Eritrea, Lesotho, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe), consequently transforming the lives of so many under-privileged children and school staff.

School Aid is always looking for volunteers, fund-raising ideas and initiatives, and ways of creating local and national awareness about our charity.

Every child deserves a good education and hope for a bright future, so please think of School Aid when you are having a clear out, and please help us to spread the word.

Whatever you do to get involved, the difference you'll make is nothing short of amazing.

To find out more visit our website

or contact School Aid now at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

or on 01753 883853

mercy_ship_colourI have recently arrived back from my second visit working as an anaesthetist for Mercy Ships, a Christian charity, on this occasion to Sierra Leone. Africa Mercy is a hospital ship which sails along the coast of West Africa spending about 10 months in each country undertaking surgery on the ship and other medical care in land-based clinics and training local health care workers.

When the ship first arrives in port a team is sent out for a number of screening sessions all over the country with hundreds of hopeful patients turning up and waiting patiently to be seen. The ship has 6 operating theatres, 4 wards, an intensive care unit and all the support services and a nearby centre on shore provides dental services, ophthalmology and rehabilitation The surgery includes general, orthopaedics, eyes, head and neck surgery such as cleft lips and palates and facial tumours and surgery for the very unfortunate women who have undergone traumatic childbirth. There are many conditions we never see in this country including lots of children and even adults who would have had corrective surgery here at a very young age.

There are 450 crew members of all nationalities on board, the largest group being American, and all ages from gap year students to the retired, some doing short stints, others there for 2 years and some such as the brilliant facial surgeon have worked for over 20 years and raised their families on the ship. They are all unpaid volunteers but the ship also employs locals or "day workers" who are recruited via their churches, so providing much needed employment. There is a multinational school on board, educating up to 50 children of crew members.

After a hair-raising trip from the airport to Freetown, the capital, by small boat in pitch darkness in quite a rough sea I arrived late one Sunday evening ready to be plunged into work the next morning. Our group of anaesthetists was very friendly and helped each other out; we worked hard but it was exhilarating. The patients are all so grateful and uncomplaining and recover from their surgery very quickly, greeting you with wide smiles on the wards afterwards. The wards are noisy and chaotic with extra relatives sleeping on or under the beds, lots of singing, guitars and drums being played and often English premier club football on television!

hospital_patient_colourSierra Leone is the second poorest country in the world with an average life expectancy of 42 years and is still suffering from the aftermath of a bitterly fought ten year civil war. Walking through Freetown you are only too aware of the dense overcrowding and slum-like accommodation with children everywhere, rubbish piled up, crowds jostling in between the terrible traffic or stepping over mosquito-infested open drains and the horrendous noise from the hooting of horns and shouting of the stall-holders. In contrast there are also beautiful, quiet, totally unspoilt beaches such as the unimaginatively named "River Number Two" where the sand feels like velvet, the rolling Atlantic waves are crystal clear and the lobster caught and cooked in front of you tastes fantastic.

Out of working hours I joined some of the regular visits to homes for handicapped children and orphans and an old people's home where the youngest resident was a 37 year old who had been paralysed by 4 gunshot wounds to his back during the civil war. A visit to the women's prison involved stories, singing and making jewellery. Not my usual Saturday afternoon in Coleshill! Nor did the 3 hour Sunday morning service at a local church bear much resemblance to All Saints. It was extremely hot with loud singing, deafening music and a sermon from a visiting Liberian pastor which went on for over an hour. However the ladies were all beautifully dressed, the children very well behaved and we were made very welcome with refreshments afterwards.

There is a strong Christian ethos on the ship although you do not need to be religious to volunteer. I had no missionary zeal but went for the adventure and the hope that after having lived a very privileged and cushy life I could give a little back. It certainly makes you appreciate the NHS for all its faults. If anyone is interested in finding out more do visit

Jane McNeilly