Long Sutton Friendly Society
One of the highlights of village life in Long Sutton is the Long Sutton Club. It has survived as a village custom and been in existence since 1818. Its real name is 'The Long Sutton Friendly Society' which was formed to provide welfare benefits for its members, as there were no National Insurance or Welfare Benefits in those days. It used to hold its traditional Club walk on each Trinity Monday but changed from 1972 and is now held on a Saturday and is one of a few of its kind still in existence.
The day starts with the church bells being rung at 6.00am and is followed by the annual roll call of Members at the Village Hall. The procession is headed by the Banner Bearer, Secretary, Chairman and President of the society followed by the band and then the members. Over the years the society has been supported by Kingsbury, Yeovil and in recent years Sherborne Town bands, one year though, in the 1990s, there was no band available and a Jazz band was asked to lead the members round.
The members' parade from the hall to the church for their annual service, stopping outside the West Door for the National Anthem and then parading into Holy Trinity Church for the annual service, where music again is provided by the band. The banner with its motto 'United we stand, divided we fall' is draped across the altar during the service. The hymns selected are well known and, to hear a church full of men singing with a brass band, is quite an experience.
After the service the parade then reforms and the members set off on their walk calling at various houses and farms for refreshments of all kinds. One year the walk goes to Knole and the next Upton. On their return to the village the members would hold their annual luncheon in the village school, this then moved to the Village Hall when it was built. Today the members hold their annual luncheon at the golf club. Guests are invited to the luncheon and this tradition is still carried on today, although all contributions made by the guest on the day are now given to local charities some of those to benefit are the St Margaret's Hospice, the village school, local churches and village halls.
The annual Christmas tree on the green is donated, erected and lit and by the Friendly Society each year, as is a wreath laid at the War Memorial on Armistice Sunday in memory of those who died in the wars and also club members who have died more recently.
Annual Walk 2016
Once again, Long Sutton Friendly Society took to the village streets to raise money for the charity. The Society, which is believed to be the oldest continually operational Friendly Society in the country, had its annual charity walk on Saturday the 4th of June. This year they visited Knole and were accompanied by Sherborne Town Band. 6 stops along the way kept the troupe fed and watered (well mostly cidered) and, once again, they regrouped at Long Sutton Golf Club for a luncheon.
Along with invited guests the Golf Club fed almost 200 people and is probably one of the few locations in the area able to cater for such a large group. Following several entertaining speeches, the secretary announced that, over the last year, the Society had donated £500 to the Somerset Air Ambulance and the same amount to St. Margaret's Hospice.
Long Sutton Friendly Society is looking forward to its 200 year anniversary in 2018 and planning for this milestone is already underway.