When members of the Farnham Youth Club reached the age of being able to frequent a public house , The Marlborough Head in East Street, became the meeting place for those young people.

It was here that the young male members agreed to form an association to help the needs of others in the community less fortunate than themselves and on the 23rd June 1959 the first meeting of The Ancient and Most Honourable Order of the Hedgehogs was held. At this time a constitution was agreed which survives to this day with a few amendments to cater for the passage of time and growth of the organisation. Particular changes became necessary to meet the requirements of the Charity Commissioners’ when The Hedgehogs became a Registered Charity in 2001.

In the early days both physical and financial help was given to deserving cases in the community but as the years have passed there has been a greater role in running fund raising events . One of the early day fund raising events which has stood the passage of time is the Sponsored swim and this now provides for other organisations to raise money for their particular cause. Likewise the New Years Draw, which has recently become the Grand Draw remains a feature in our calendar and provides much needed income and support. From the early seventies we ran a succession of 50:50 auctions which eventually became a more formal dinner and action event progressing to the current day Golf Day and Banquet events.
Christmas Markets at the Central Club Jumble Sales at the St John’s Hall, Farnham Tournament and Spring Fayre, both held in Gostrey Meadows and construction and funding of a purpose built Dayroom at Cobgates all filled the period up to the nineties. During the last 20 years great success has been achieved with the highly professional Fashion Shows Golf Days, Dinner and Auction Evenings, the Bat and Ball Beer Festival and the popular Quiz evenings. So much so that we are now able to donate around £35K a year to individuals and charities in Farnham and the local area. For the past 10 years we have been pleased to work in collaboration with Farnham Lions jointly organising the annual Farnham Carnival.

Stirling work has been undertaken by members and wives in running bric-a -barc, nearly new clothes , bookstalls, skittles and coconut shy’s at village fetes and other such events which have provide a steady income for our charity giving. More recently we have added a monthly Jazz Cafe at the Malting’s to our regular event list along with a Marquees, tables and chairs hire and erection service, both of which are extremely popular and contributing well to our funds.

At our 55th Anniversary Dinner on 10th October 2015 held at the Hogs Back Hotel, Kevin Blatch a member and former Hedgehogs Chairman wrote and recited this poem .

To the Hedgehogs Wild West Casino evening, I went as a guest
I have to say for fun, it was one of the best
At the end of the evening when we were all ‘wined’
A bottle auction was held, but it was unusually, blind
The bidding was frantic, I’d seen nothing of it’s ilk
Sometimes the winner got brandy, more often they got milk

So to become a Hedgehog member I got the urge and
was introduced to the group, by dear Roger Burge
It was at the liberal club, in a room filled with smoke
When smoking was normal, if you were a bloke
The man in the Chair was called Cyril Trust
Everything was orderly and nobody fussed

At the third meeting I went outside wrapped in my coat
While the members were left to decide by a vote
If I was to join them, or was to be out on my ear
But I’d had the ‘heads up’ that I need have no fear
My joining was not going to be a matter of luck
But would most likely would be YES as I had a truck

To now be a member was really quite great
But immediately I had to step up to the plate
To organise the Auction was to be my first job
A major annual event that raised a few ‘Bob’
In those days we used to go and collect
But all those heavy men’s wardrobes I didn’t expect

With 200 plus items often given as a gift
A lot of them on the top floor and never a lift
We struggled to get them up into Frank’s store
Because up in the air was the small single door
They were recorded and cleaned and given a tag and
put in the catalogue, a kind of a mag

Later they were taken to Weybourne sea cadet’s hall
We were all very careful not to stumble and fall
The items were set out, in neat rows to be viewed
Furniture and pictures, some of them nude
Then the bidding, with hopefully a calmer, to
get the best item under the hammer

I also remember the Hedgehogs ride on a bike,
To be fair it had three wheels so was really a trike,
From London to Brighton if we could last,
It was so very heavy we weren’t very fast,
Even with 21 riders, 3 wide, 7 long
If you thought we’d be quick then you would be wrong
Still, we made the papers and also the news
But my poor backside, it still remembers the bruise

In Gostrey Meadows we held our annual fete
It was fun, it was happy and normally great,
There were coconuts and skittles, tea and of course cake,
Amazing what our better halves, were able to bake
Then came the unexpected and unbelievable news,
Brussels obliged the council to alter their views
So the conditions for renting, they came in a book
We decided it was best, that they slung their hook

This then allowed us to start ventures new
By attaching to others, using their venue
Like Wrecclesham, Rowledge and also the Bourne
With Gostrey gone we weren’t long forlorn
This has been so successful, with much less pain
And not at our cost if it started to rain

Of course there is the annual charity swim
For those full of vigour and possibly vim
A few of us did it when we were still hunks
In latter years only Maurice, just in his trunks
Still despite that there are plenty of others
Some of them kids, some of them mothers
With varied strokes, some of them funny
But all with the intent of raising some money.

It is 20 years ago we were all here
When I was the chair, in the 35th year
Things have moved on, but with no change of intent
To raise more money that can wisely be spent
Onwards and upwards and all thanks to you
It’s an honour and pleasure to be here too.

Kevin Blatch October 2015