A social group which has been a part of Rustington for 50 years is set to host the mother of all anniversary parties.
Mod Mums was founded in 1968 by Jean Marshall, a resident who attended Rustington Methodist Church in Claigmar Road and wanted to attract more young mothers to the church.
In their first meeting, seven people turned up – but with the help of Jean Wells running a creche and Sheila Boocock serving coffee, and by plastering notices across the town, the next meeting was attended by 30 mothers.
Membership kept growing, reaching a peak of 100 attendees a week, who would enjoy a coffee and a chat, quizzes and talks while their children played in the creche.
Jean, from Church Farm Gardens, Rustington, said: “It was just so overwhelming; it grew so quickly. It was just a miracle really.”
Jean Marshall, now 80, will be among guests of honour at the 50th celebrations held at the church on Saturday, April 21 from 1.30pm to 4pm.
Over the years, the group has supported single mothers and women recommended to attend by social workers, or parents new to the area.
Mod Mums committee member and tea lady Di Brown was one of the latter. When she moved to the village with her husband from Aldershot in 1973, Di was in her thirties with two young children, Margaret and Philip, and Mod Mums – short for Modern Mums – was in full swing. After a daunting first meeting, she fell in love with the group and has been a member for 45 years.
Her fond memories included dressing as a little boy being told off by his parent for a comedy sketch at the methodist church’s harvest supper, making lunches for its garden parties, and the award-winning floats and walking group costumes the Mod Mums made for the Rustington Carnival, including converting pushchairs into the Red Arrows for the Queen’s 80th birthday theme in 2006.
The 78-year-old from Broadmark Lane, Rustington, said: “I shall carry on until I’m past it – until I can’t pour a glass of water.”
Tickets for the celebrations cost £15 and include a buffet meal. Book by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting the group when they meet on a Wednesday morning at the church.