Spring Valley Branch
Until 1925 there were no up-country branches of the E.A.W.L. Representatives from the nearby districts belonged to a central committee in Nairobi, meeting in the old Memorial Hall.
Spring Valley Branch was originally an offshoot from Lower Kabete Branch, which, along with Upper Kabete, came into being in 1928 when the Kabete Branch split into two. On November 16th 1949, a meeting of Lower Kabete Branch members agreed that since many of their members came from the outskirts of the district, it would be a good idea to start another branch. On December 6th 1949 Spring Valley Branch came into being. One of the first members of the branch was Mrs. Dodo Lathbury (pictured below) who came to Kabete in 1928 and was the first DVP of Lower Kabete Branch. Was made a Member of Honour of the League. On her 90th birthday in November 1986, she was presented with a cake and a card from the Branch Chairman, Mrs. Joan Crawforth.
Mrs. Dodo Lathbury on her 90th Birthday
The Branch has always had monthly meetings with speakers and/or demonstrators on a variety of topics; raised money for many local charities and hospitals. Their 1957 Christmas Fair was very successful, raising £451. Members were seen selling flags in 1958, in aid of the Child Welfare Fund and supporting the Poppy Day Appeal and the Polio Fund.
They provided private hospitality for Troops in Kenya and manned the Haig House Services Club on the fourth Tuesday of every month for many months. When the Belgian refugees came to Kenya in 1960, Spring Valley members helped at the Transit Camp.
The Branch provided stewards for and participated in the Home crafts Exhibitions, as it does today. Through successful fund-raising, in 1958, members were able to reach the target figure of £500 for the Weal House Fund, which ensured that one of the rooms would be named after the Branch. Mrs. Selwood, Mrs. Bagehot and Mrs. Betts, who embroidered the members’ signatures, made a Spring Valley room tablecloth. It was Mrs. Betts who in 1961 composed the Spring Valley Prayer, which was said at the beginning of each meeting.
The custom of providing individual gifts wrapped in Xmas paper to each resident of Weal House, on Christmas Day, was started in 1961, and has been continued by the Branch ever since.
Spring Valley has always taken a special interest in St. Nicholas School for mentally challenged children, which has now changed its name. Mrs. Shirtliffe (DVP) was the League's representative on this school committee in 1958 when she organised with Branch members an outing for the children and staff to take a picnic tea to Machakos.
Spring Valley joined with the other branches in producing an embroidered panel of the district. The picture chosen was of the Masara Hounds on the track which is now the Lower Kabete Road. Mrs. Daphne Manussis designed it, the embroidery was done by Mrs. Diana Cochrane. Before being sent to the UK the panels were exhibited at the EAWL Exhibition of Historic Panels and Early European Settlement.
The Branch helped to mount the panels and provided stewards for the exhibition. At this time (1961) membership was about 70, it has fluctuated over the years. In her report in 1962, the DVP, Mrs. Coltart, said that in 1961Spring Valley managed to provide many officers within the League - our President, the Chairman of Executive, 5 Councillors and at least one representative on every Standing Committee, also representatives on three outside organisations. Spring Valley today also provides many officers within the League and has done so for many years.
Over the years, Spring Valley Branch has raised money for those in need in a countless variety of ways.
In 1985 the Chairman Mrs. Vivienne Eccles, formed an SOS group called WEAL Help, which is made up mainly from members of Spring Valley, with some from other branches. The function of the group was to give help to anyone who needed it, not necessarily in an emergency, to visit house bound or hospitalised people, or just to visit to keep people in touch, especially those who live alone. Mrs. Wendy Allen compiled a list of donors willing to give blood, which is available to all League members. It has proved a boon to many people.
The branch also donates to other needy causes and looks to its committee to organise the ways and means thereof. Those members who attend the meetings enjoy a varied programme and those who cannot are kept in touch with a regular newsletter. Spring Valley has had many interesting meetings, but I doubt that any could match the one of January 1962 when John Williams of the Coryndon Museum gave a talk on birds and proceeded to demonstrate the skinning and stuffing of one said bird!