We’re always delighted to hear from our supporters and volunteers about their relationship with the Red Box – many of which are passed down from one generation to the next. Our Local Secretaries are the tireless people who dedicate their time and energy into managing collections of Red Boxes in parishes across England and Wales.
Local Secretary Clare from Salford Diocese shared that her family have been collecting Red Box donations for almost 90 years. In fact, from what Clare has shared about her family history, it seems they have been supporting the Mill Hill Missionaries (MHM) through a mission box even before the MHM’s joined forces with Missio in 1936!
There from the beginning
‘We have had our Red Box since the 1930s and it is emptied twice yearly. My grandad was the secretary and treasurer in the early years with my two aunties helping for many years. I left the parish for a few years, but I continued to empty the boxes and now I am Local Secretary with the help of a friend who is the Treasurer. May we carry on for many more years!
‘My grandad, William, lived in Bamber Bridge all his life and was a parishioner at St Mary’s in Brownedge. He was the first Local Secretary in Bamber Bridge. I used to empty a box belonging to a Mrs Longton, she lived to the age of 99 and always told me that she was the first person to have a Mission Box from my Grandad in the 1930s.’
Passing the torch
‘When Grandad died in 1956, my Auntie Alice took on the job of looking after the Red Boxes. Then it was taken over by a lady called Winnie Dickinson, but when she went into a nursing home in 2017 she asked that I take it over. My friend Joan and I decided we would take it on together, as we had both already been collectors. I am the secretary and Joan is the treasurer.
‘I order the books and get them ready for distribution to our collectors. I love going to people’s houses, especially seeing those people who don’t get out much. It is definitely changing; people are using cash less, financially stretched and also an ageing population who have been the backbone of the parish. But I do it because of tradition, and love of the missions, and hopefully to pass on the faith.’
There’s a strong chance that William was among the first Red Box Local Secretaries. Father Thomas Jackson began collecting money for the Mill Hill Missionaries back in the 1900s.
Fr Jackson was from Preston, so it makes sense that St Mary’s, Bamber Bridge, which is on the border of the Salford-Lancaster Dioceses, has a collection that dates back to the very early days. When he came back from Borneo (because of ill health), Fr Jackson was based in Freshfield (Liverpool Archdiocese) and would travel across the north of England encouraging support for mission.
It’s wonderful to see the line of faith and support for the missions dating back for a century through Clare’s family. We are so grateful for all your hard work and support, and your Grandad and aunties too. Thank you!
Share the love
Small change makes a big difference to our missionary family around the world. As part of the Red Box family, our Local Secretaries, collectors, and promoters are sharing faith and enriching lives across the globe.
Could you join the long tradition of igniting God’s love around the world? If you can spare a few hours, a few days or a few weeks each year, you can find out more about volunteering for Missio and the Mill Hill Missionaries here>>
What better gift can we give than to let the world know of God’s love? If you’d like to learn more about the origins of Missio and the Mill Hill Missionaries, visit our history pages>>