Bunny club memories flood back
Readers who were former members of The Hunts Post Bunny Fellowship have been recalling all the events and activities which made the scheme a success. The children s club did not just run in the 1960s – it began in the 1930s, and over the years involved th
Readers who were former members of The Hunts Post Bunny Fellowship have been recalling all the events and activities which made the scheme a success.
The children's club did not just run in the 1960s - it began in the 1930s, and over the years involved thousands of youngsters.
As reported in The Hunts Post last week, children were invited to collect "bun pennies" Victorian coins, so called because Queen Victoria was on them with her hair in a bun.
The money was given to the children's ward at the old County Hospital and enough was collected to buy children's cots and even an extension.
Cynthia Linnell, now aged 79 from Somersham, told The Hunts Post she was seven when she was presented with a gold medal by Lord Hinchingbrooke for her efforts.
She and other young collectors were given fellowship badges and certificates.
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Memories of the fellowship poured in after Simon Irons, a plumber from Diddington, unearthed a fellowship badge in a Diddington field with his metal detector.
Since then it has been discovered that a reporter from the newspaper, called Uncle Bunny, would visit sick children in the hospital each week and put their names in his column.
Mrs Linnell, now a grandmother, who was then Cynthia Corbett and living in the outskirts of St Ives, said she remembered travelling by a Kiddles coach to Huntingdon Town Hall for her presentation.
She said: "I was supposed to give a speech, but I wasn't to have it written down, I was to remember it all - and I remember to this day that all I could do was cry.
"I have a picture of me with Lord Hinchingbrooke and Eric Saint, from Somersham, who got the silver medal and Joyce Butcher, from Bluntisham, who won the bronze.
"The money went to buy a cot for the new baby's ward. I remember my mother rushing to buy The Hunts Post to see how much I had raised compared to Eric."
Ivy Randle, 75, from Godmanchester, who was then Ivy Freeman and living in Brampton, called in at The Hunts Post with her certificate awarded in 1943 after she collected 19 shillings (228 old pennies - there were 12 old pennies in a shilling and 240 pennies in a pound).
Mrs Randle, who now has nine grandchildren and four great grandchildren, said: "The money was collected to build a sun-ray room - what we would call a conservatory now. I read the piece in The Hunts Post and it brought back memories.
"I remember Uncle Bunny. He was a chap with glasses and smooth black hair. I remember going to the party in the sun-ray room at the side of the hospital. It's all gone now, it's a shame."
Kenneth Pateman, 74, a retired carpenter from St Neots, said that aged four, and then living in Southoe, he had been the 7,000th member of the Bunny Fellowship.
And former editor of The Hunts Post John Clark contacted us to say that he was possibly the last - and the youngest - Uncle Bunny in the 1950s when he was a teenager. Mr Clark worked for The Hunts Post for 37 years and was editor for 17 years in the 1970s and 1980s.
Mr Clark, now living in St Ives, said: "I went to the old County Hospital every Friday morning and the children would show me their writing and drawings and tell me what they had been doing. I would be announced by the ward sister who would say: 'Look everyone - here is Uncle Bunny!'
"We would keep a register of fellowship members, who got their names in the paper on their birthdays. The money they collected paid for cots on the ward and one or two were inscribed with the words: Hunts Post Bunny Fellowship. The fellowship took part in the Christmas party on the ward.