IT began as a social event for a group of friends to raise money for a good cause and has stood the test of time for 60 years.

But, despite its impressive popularity down the decades, a popular Whitefield charity event has seen its last cup of coffee poured.

For the ladies of Stand Unitarian Chapel in Ringley Road, Whitefield, have hung up their cake-making aprons for good, having raised a grand total of £63,000 in six decades for The Christie Hospital in Manchester.

That was not before one last hurrah, however.

More than 120 people called into the chapel on May 4 for a coffee morning and afternoon, tucking into tasty treats and enjoying a cuppa in good company.

Special guest for the day was Bury Mayor, Cllr Stella Smith, and the guest speaker was Heather Brookfield, a fundraiser from The Christie, who explained how the £1,700 raised on the day would help the hospital's Woman's Trust Fund buy life-saving equipment.

One of the event's organisers, Eileen Ormerod, said: "It was a great way to bow out.

"We had eight ladies baking cakes and making the room look nice the day before and we were pleased with how the day went.

"A lot of people said they would miss the annual get-together and did not know what they would do now on the first Wednesday of May."

Mrs Ormerod said the group was folding because it was struggling to find new recruits and, traditionally, volunteers took over from their mothers in helping out with the day.

She recalled how, in 1956, her own mother, Lady Lena Southern, got together with her friend from the chapel, Ede Openshaw, and other ladies and organised the first afternoon tea fundraiser.

Lady Southern suggested donating the proceeds to The Christie and, at the first event, the hospital's matron came along to speak. The total raised was £52. "A lot of money in those days," said Mrs Ormerod.

The annual social was held at Ringley Sunday School and, later, Whitefield Town Hall, before being staged at the chapel.

Mrs Ormerod added: "The ladies will still see each other at church and I am still going to continue with charity box collections at local shops, so not all is lost.

"I would like to thank everyone who has come to the coffee mornings and afternoons over the years and everyone who has helped out."

Visit for more information about the fundraising campaign.