THE EARLY YEARS A small gathering in August 1950 led to the Colchester Flower Club being formed, the second in Great Britain. Help and advice was given at the commencement by Mrs Mary Pope, who had six months previously formed the Dorchester Flower Club.
In October 1951 an audience of 200 attended the first meeting at the George Hotel in Colchester. Mrs Underwood was Chairman and lectures mostly by the Constance Spry School and the London School of Floristry commenced. Miss Edwards, a member of the club, also gave demonstrations and membership quickly rose to 250.
By 1952 a rising crescendo of interest in flower arranging had commenced in East Anglia. In the main lecturers donated their services and names appearing in newly formed clubs’ programmes included Mrs Constance Spry, Miss Julia Clements, Mrs Sheila McQueen, Mrs Mary Pope, Miss Violet Stevenson, Miss Ann Lewis and Mrs Desmond Underwood. Practice classes were the order of the day, the only aids available being 2” wide mesh wire netting, pinholders and plasticine.
Subscriptions ranged from 5 shillings to 10 shillings with visitors paying around 1 shilling and sixpence.
January saw the launching of the Woodbridge Flower Club which rapidly progressed with great success. Members attended specialised courses, and some provided arrangements for exhibitions in East Anglia and London. Frinton and District Flower Club was formed in March and membership was by invitation only. West Norfolk Club became the first in Norfolk in May. Mrs Russell from Constance Spry took one of the early meetings, requesting that members produce fan-shaped arrangements. After adjudication, she suggested that all should be re-arranged using half the flowers!
In the coming months clubs were quickly established throughout the region. The East of England Area was still a few years away, but the seeds of successful flower clubs in our region were quickly being sown.
In 1964 the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies (NAFAS) was created. The East of England became the first Area of this newly founded organisation, and has henceforth become known as “The First Area of NAFAS” a title which is held with great pride by our members.
In 2019 NAFAS celebrates its 55th Anniversary and the East of England celebrate their 60th or Diamond Anniversary. Watch this space for news of exciting events to celebrate these fantastic milestone anniversaries.