Faringdon has one meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous and it meets at the United Reform Church on Coxwell Street. The meeting is held on Fridays at 1945. The 4th meeting a month is an Open Meeting.
FARINGDON Fri 1945
United Reform Church,
History of the Faringdon Meeting
Friday 7.45 pm 1st Floor, Community Centre, Market Square, Faringdon, 1981 – 1999
United Reform Church,Park Road, Faringdon, 1999 – to date
Formed February 1981
Margaret W. writes
Having been sober for about eight years and very involved in the recovery programme, it struck me that much of my time was spent traveling long distances to attend meetings. On Twelfth Step work the mileage clocked up even further.
Talking to various members from Swindon, Oxford, Cheltenham, Cirencester and Stow on the Wold it seemed to each of us that Faringdon would fill a need and be a handy place for a new group. Living in the next village of Lechlade it fell to me to enquire around Faringdon to find a suitable venue.
The local doctors were supportive but could not suggest a suitable room in the centre of the town; however a local policeman suggested the church and gave me the address of a Catholic priest, and in due course Father Leo Target welcomed me into his house and over a cup of tea we discussed the possible venues available in the town.
He had no church of his own and dealt with the needs of his parishioners by sharing a Methodist Hall. While he talked I noticed a mug on his desk with an inscription on the side. He saw me trying to read what it said and passed it to me.It read ‘ To Father Leo Target … Honorary member of Alcoholics Anonymous – Guernsey’. ‘No, no, I’m not an alcoholic he said, ‘but whilst I was on Guernsey I was approached by a lady called Pru asking if I would help her start the first AA group there.Well, I knew Pru from Cheltenham very well. She, like me, was not a Catholic but we had both asked Leo to help us. The priest was highly amused.
He suggested that I call into the local Community Centre and ask for somebody called Mac. After a quick word with the town clerk I approached Mac and we were offered a room and good sized kitchen. £5 per meeting was the agreed rent and I wondered whether we would get enough members to cover this.I remember each person who came through the door of that first meeting. Good friends all.
The old meeting room in Faringdon market square…upstairs on the first floor, first you had to run the gauntlet of the bar below !!
Pru later told me that Father Leo had once been a ‘song and dance man’ in the music halls. During the 1939-45 war he had escaped from a prisoner of war camp and on the border with Switzerland had promised God that if he were rescued he would become a priest. He has retired now and his dear face has the glow of real spirituality. A true friend to AA.
As Faringdon Group became more established we approached the Americans at Fairford and even held meetings on the base. An open invitation was always on the noticeboard and one or two service people attended most meetings. Their Actions Officer was always helpful. Those were wonderful days as I learned to change myself and live our daily programme.
Clive F. continues ….
As Margaret mentioned up until 1990 the group had an American presence. This slowly faded away as the base at Fairford was closed. They were always active and welcome in service positions within the group and we were sad to see them go.
During the late 1980s Faringdon became part of South Midlands Intergroup and it was about this time that Margaret moved from Lechlade to Cirencester.
Throughout the 1990s the group was always self supporting, making regular contributions to Intergroup. Generally we had regular attendances of around 10 to 15 members; however there were lean times when attendances fell to 2 to 3. As I write, (in 1999), we are well attended with about 12 regular members.
1999 saw the most dramatic change in the group since its founding. The Community Centre closed due to financial problems and we were forced to find a new meeting place at extremely short notice. We were put in touch with Father Martin Whiffen of the Faringdon United Reform Church who agreed to let us use a meeting room in the Church. The first meeting was held on Friday, August 6, 1999. All the members present at that first meeting agreed that the new venue met our requirements admirably with improved facilities over our original room.
The end of the year was signalled by an Open Candlelit Meeting, a tradition that continues each year on the last Friday before Christmas emphasising the family nature of our illness and recovery at this special time of year.
Since 1999 the group has gone from strength to strength. We are careful to ensure that service positions are filled by those who are able to carry them out with good sponsorship. Average attendances are 15 -20 and 30 is not unusual.
We have even managed to interest the vicar in the meeting after he spied our Steps and Traditions scrolls through a window ! He was impressed with the spiritual nature of the programme, attended an open meeting, and now feels able to recommend us to his parishioners !
Clive F. ( March 2005 )