Mexborough and Swinton Times December 9, 1938
One of the best known figures in the sphere of friendly society activity in the Dearne Valley area was honoured on Tuesday evening when the Wath District of the Manchester Unity of Oddfellows made a presentations to their secretary, Mr. Fred Dickinson, of Garden Street, Darfield.
The gifts consisted of a smoker’s cabinet and a wallet containing notes, and were handed over as an appreciation of executive and administrative work carried out by Mr Dickinson for many years.
Mr Dickinson has been an odd fellow for 46 years. He went into office in 19 away and never been out since. In 1911 he was appointed auditor, 1923 secretary of the ‘Alma Lodge’in a meeting room at the horse Shoe Hotel, Wombwell, the presentation was made, and in 19 34 secretary of the Wath District, which has nearly 1800 adult and juvenile members, is one of the most important in the order.
In 1923 he passed a severe examination in accountancy entitled him to use the letters C.E.M.U. after his name and to wear a special medallion. This was a very high achievement for a man who had spent forty odd years of his working life in the mine
Mr Dickinson enthusiasm centred in this friendly Society work, but he has just one other hobby, and that is music. For over half a century he has been connected with choirs and Glee party in the district.
Mr Dickinson was born at Birdwell, and until his 12th birthday attended the Church school in old Worsbrough Village. He always had a good head for figures. Friendly Society work is still a house-to-house interest in the Yorkshire mining district. This will be realised when it is mentioned that in the Alma Lodge alone the Manchester Unity of Odd Fellows have in active membership no fewer than 550 adults and as many juveniles.
Mr Dickinson moved to Darfield 33 years ago, when he retired from Pit work in 1927 had been employed at Houghton Main for 20 years.
For a long time was a member of the committee of the Houghton Main branch of the Y.M.A. and from 1921 to 23 was branch secretary.
He has also had a long association with Foresters Friendly Society. Actually he joined the Foresters and the Odd Fellows in 1892 – one in November and the other in December of that year. He has passed through all the officers of the “Prince of Wales” Court of the Foresters which meeting George Street, Wombwell.
Music with Mr Dickinson has been an intuition born on early Association with choral singing is a member of the choir of Saint Mary’s, Worsbrough which he joined when he was seven. The only musical instrument he has ever handled the tuning fork. Yet he has conducted numerous choirs.
He conducted his first choir festival at the Reform Church in George Street, Wombwell, forty years ago, following Mr. Tom Davies who has just been on holiday from Australia.
From 1912 to 1916 he was choirmaster at Low Valley Primitive Methodist Church, and after that at Barnsley Road Methodist Church Wombwell. He conducted a glee party from Darfield Village Club which won the South Yorkshire Club and Institute Union championship shield in 1919, and trained a quartet party which gained similar honours for Wombwell Reform Club in 1934.
Pressure of work has caused him to have to break with most of his musical Association, but he cannot shake it off completely he still conducts a singing class at Great Houghton.
The presentation was made at a social, following a tea party in a room which has been the headquarters of the Odd Fellows in Wombwell since 1856, when Hiram Scargill, father of Wombwell’s late veteran postman was sick visitor.
The original dispensation of the first six visitors book – faded with age and nearly falling to pieces – still open for inspection. The meeting was called at the instigation of the Provincial Grand Master, Mr J McGinn.
The presentation was made by brother Jake Hibbert, of Clayton West, president of the Yorkshire conference. He gave a resume of the widespread activities of the Order, especially mentioning the Orphan Gift Fund, through which 2000 children receive education since the war. This, he pointed out, was a perfectly voluntary organisation, and sweet over £200,000 have been raised.
Remarks of commendation were also offered by Councillor T Bradley, chairman of Wombwell Urban