September 2010
Alfred's gift donated to Society

A small chalice that Alfred Williams brought back from her First World War service in India is the latest addition to the Society's small collection of artefacts relating to his life.

It will eventually be part of a permanent display that will be on show, in and around Swindon.

The chalice, which is six inches (15cm) tall, was given by Alfred as a wedding present to his sister, but was later passed to the Crouch family, who were Alfred's friends in South Marston.

The latest owner was Betty Crouch (now Reynolds), who is 89 and lives in Highworth. And she contacted the donate it to us after finding out about the foundation of the Alfred Williams Heritage Society.

It is the second generous gift we have received, after Clive and Ann Partridge gave us two paintings, earlier this year.

Betty Reynolds knew Alfred when she was a girl, growing up in South Marston, and even recalls the day when Alfred was found dead at Ranikhet, the cottage he and Mary built for themselves in the 1920s. She went to chapel, just a stone's throw away, played near the cottage, and went inside several times, and still remembers Alfred and Mary clearly.

Her parents befriended Alfred and Mary, and tried to help them in the last few years of their lives, when they were close to starving, but Alfred's intensely proud nature always prevented him from taking anything that he perceived as charity. The Reynolds were never forgotten by Alfred's sister, however, and they were given the chalice in recognition of their kindness.

Betty said: "When Alfred's sister gave my parents the chalice, she said: 'I'm sure Alfred and Mary would like you to have this.' And now it seems right that it should be passed on to the Alfred Williams Heritage Society."

Graham Carter, Vice-chair of the Society, said the chalice would take pride of place in the permanent display of artefacts when it goes 'on the road' in 2011.

He said: "It is wonderful to obtain a really personal item like this, which is part of Alfred's story. And it is made all the more special because it makes the Indian connection, as that was such an important phase in Alfred's life.

"It has been a real honour to meet Betty, especially as her parents tried so hard to help Alfred and Mary in their hour of greatest need."

The chalice will form part of the display of artefacts at the Alfred Williams Heritage Festival at STEAM on November 13.

Read Betty's memories in 'The Alfred I Knew'.

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