12th January 2022 marked the 141st anniversary of the foundation of the “Mary Hollon Annuity & Coal Fund”, which is now the “Mary Hollon Annuity & Relief in Need Trust”.
After Mary Hollon’s death in 1880, Richard Welch Hollon was devastated. He had had nearly 25 very happy years with his wife and wanted to mark not only their relationship, but also Mary’s continuing love and affection for Morpeth where she grew up. So, he gave the Corporation of Morpeth £5,000 to set up a fund.
The principal benefactors would be 13 women & 12 men, over 60, who were sober, and of upright & good moral standing. These twentyfive people (one for each year of the Hollon’s marrige) would be entertained at a “liberal meat tea” each year and receive a quarterly sum of £10 plus ton of coal at Christmas. That £5,000 would be equivalent to about £571,755 today – which just shows how both how wealthy and how generous Richard Hollon was.
The formal Deed of Covenant was signed on 12th January 1881, although the first Hollon Tea was held on 5 November 1880 – what would have been the Hollon’s 25th wedding anniversary if Mary had lived. Just to show how prices have changed, a newspaper article in the 1890’s shows the total cost of the Tea for 25 annuitants and an unknown number of guests was £3 6s 6d. (about £3.32), it costs considerably more than that today!
The Hollon Trust is Morpeth’s oldest charity and still provides the “Hollon” Tea for our annuitants (now numbering 80), aged over 75, held on the Hollon’s wedding anniversary every 5th November. The Trust also assists Morpeth residents in need who are referred to us by agencies such as Social Services and Citizens Advice.
Alison Byard, Trustee of the Hollon Trust January 2022