Ruth Davis-Schedler (May 1936)
was invited as a guest by the Swiss Benevolent Society to their Annual Afternoon Tea Party held at the Swiss Embassy on 14 June 2016
She shared the following story with the SBS:
FIVE GENERATIONS IN THE SWISS COLONY
It all began in 1916, when my paternal grandfather from Basel was asked to take over the management of a chemical firm in Manchester. Once here, he and his family were very involved in Swiss Affairs, and he became Hon. Swiss Consul and President of the City Swiss Club.
After my father’s schooling he returned to Switzerland for his training, then came to London with his new wife Vera, and worked for the Swiss Bank for 40 years. My parents were both staunch members of many Swiss Organisations. I remember well my mother and her Swiss friends, knitting industriously for the Frauenverein and distributing the items to the poor and lonely Swiss, especially in the war years.
During these years, the Swiss Church was held in a room in Kingsway Hall, Holburn. There was no piano or organ, but an old harmonium which a dear elderly lady would play, after first pumping it up with its squeaky, creaky pedals before the Minister had finished his sermon or his prayers. My sister and I would have the giggles.
August the First celebrations were always a pleasant “Get-together” with the other Swiss families. For a while they were held in Central Hall, Westminster, and were followed by a piano recital by Albert Ferber.
As soon as the war was over our holidays were spent in Switzerland, travelling by train to Basel and arriving early in the morning. We would have breakfast in the Station Buffet, with fresh rolls and black cherry jam. A real treat for us. At other times we would travel in a pre-war Morris, never exceeding 60 kms per hour. It took ages!
The fourth generation, my children, have fond memories of the Swiss Children’s Christmas parties, held for a while in the Y.M.C.A. They used to help their “Oma” days before the parties, filling the party bags with a present, donated Swiss chocolates and an orange. Their children now enjoy their Swiss holidays, and are very proud of their Swiss roots. This is all due to the united Swiss Community in England. Long may it continue.
If you have any stories involving the Swiss Benevolent Society London and, if possible, a photo, we would like to hear about them. Please contact us.