A CENTURY of friendship, sisterly support and tireless fundraising was celebrated in Crook yesterday (Saturday, April 12).

Crook Mothers’ Union marked its 100th anniversary with a buffet and a special service led by the Reverend Vince Fenton at St Catherine’s Church.

Freda Fletcher, the longest serving member in County Durham, was among those present, having served in the Crook branch of the national Christian charity for 70 years this November.

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Mrs Fletcher, 88, joined when she moved to the town from Skelton in North Yorkshire in 1944.

“I had very poor health when I was young and I thought the country air would do me good,” she said.

“The family I was staying with were very religious and the vicar at the time encouraged me to join the Mother’s Union.

"I was unsure as I was only 18 but I am so pleased I did.

“I have made so many friends and the guest speakers are very interesting.”

Margaret Donald, Crook branch leader, shares this sentiment.

“It is a huge part of my life,” she said.

“When I joined, 24 years ago, I was feeling a bit down and everyone made me feel so welcome.

“We are very proud to be celebrating the branch’s 100th anniversary today.”

Friendship is at the heart of the Mothers’ Union movement, with monthly meetings providing a place for women to socialise and discus a range of topics inspired by the guest speaker.

However, fundraising is equally important and, internationally, Mothers’ Union groups raise millions of pounds to support impoverished people and communities of all faiths.

By selling items, such as cards and gifts from the charity catalogue, members fund specialists to help poor communities all over the world lift themselves out of poverty.

Last year, the Crook branch raised just over £900, while County Durham as a whole raised £14,000.

Ann Harrison, vice chairman of the Mothers’ Union in the Durham Diocese, said: “We support a literacy and numeracy programme and in the last ten years it has helped more than 60,000 become numerate and literate.”

Money is also collected to send adults and families who may not be able to afford a holiday on short breaks.

Crook Mothers’ Union will hold its next meeting at St Catherine’s Church at 2pm on Monday, May 12.

New members are always welcome. For more information contact Jean Carleton on 01207-233037.