Sunday, 9 February 2020

WHERE'S WILF?


CAST PHOTOS OF MORRIS PARSONS

The charity connections for Crossroads are well established. I have talked before about the Crossroads Care organisation that was set up as part of an ongoing story-line within the programme, but I am pleased to say that many of the actors involved in the show were also well known to use their “celebrity” status to help various good-causes over the years.

Morris Parsons with fistfuls of photographs which he turns into money for charity

Recently the scrapbooks of Morris Parsons were donated to the collection. Alongside the TV Times listings and the ATV mementos is a really lovely record of the personal appearances and charity work that Morris was asked to undertake. There were also many, many, MANY cast photographs that you can  see in the image above. The article states that Morris raised "an astonishing £1,268" for one charity by selling signed photographs of himself.

So today, no witty comments or funny remarks, just a brief look at the fantastic work of man, who was by-all-accounts, a lovely gentleman and a  great ambassador for the show.

Morris joined the cast of the show in February 1971 and very  quickly established himself as the “man you love to hate” – the grumpy father of Stan and Sheila Harvey. The first TV Times listing that was kept was from Tuesday March 2nd 1971.

By Tuesday March 23rd, Morris had joined the rest of the cast on a visit to Jersey as part of the 1500 episodes celebration and filming of Jill and Stan’s honeymoon. He was interviewed about his time in Guernsey in the mid 1930’s and again in the 1940’s.

Another  “Crossroads” related article in his scrapbook is a brief interview with the Leicester Mercury from May 18th 1971, where he discusses visiting his cousin in Leicester. In fact he reveals that it has become something of a “second home” whilst living in London and filming in Birmingham. Over the years, Morris supported many charities, at "home", in the Midlands and further afield....

The first two “charity” related items that were included were as follows:


Carnival of Roses Garden Fete - Saturday June 19th 1971

A newspaper advert for the “Carnival of Roses Garden Fete” in the grounds of the Leicester General Hospital, on Saturday June 19th 1971 at 2:30pm, with all proceeds going to the hospital.

Earl Shilton Junior School June 1971

Photograph from Morris Parsons' collection

News report on the Carnival Day at Earl Shilton

Also on Saturday June 19th was a personal appearance at the “Earl Shilton Junior School Garden Fete and Carnival”, with all proceeds going towards a heated swimming pool for the school.

A letter from the Parents' Association of Earl Shilton Junior School

It is clear that Morris kept in touch with the children at the school and the scrapbooks contain a lovely letter from the Parents' Association that thank him for his time and the "joy and pleasure" that he brought to the occasions.

The next articles concern the Stourport Carnival, 1971, where Morris was invited to crown the carnival queen. Apparently the event was attended by 30,000 people and by the time Morris performed his duties he had been given a black eye after being hit in the eye by a coin whilst travelling in the parade - truly suffering for his art, but never shirking his responsibilities!





Personal appearances continued throughout the early 1970’s to help raise funds for many different causes.

July 1972

It is wonderful to read some of the correspondence kept by Morris and Mona in the scrapbooks. The letter above is just one example where the sender thanks Morris for his efforts to support those in need. It is said that "a man is known by the company he keeps", and if the letters are anything to go by, it is clear that the people Morris meets consider him a dear and true friend.

One event that is particularly well documented in the scrapbooks is his appearance at the annual “Hostel of St. John fete” at Saumarez Park, Guernsey on August 3rd 1972 - which was held to raise funds for the elderly residents of the hostel.




Morris Parsons as Wilf Harvey - Pigeon release!
Photo from Morris Parsons' collection


Sunday 17th September 1972 involved a “Gala Afternoon” on the Barwell Athletic Sports Field, Kirkby Road, Barwell” in aid of the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Gala Afternoon - Barwell Athletic Field, 1972.

A letter thanking Morris for "radiating happiness" at the event

Another event was the opening of the “Lapal Scout Group Autumn Fayre” on Saturday October 7th 1972, which raised £240 towards the group’s running expenses. It involved a ‘pigeon release’ and Morris donated a cloth cap and muffler  to the event.



Letter thanking Morris for his presence and for advertising the even - Lapal Scout Group

The next day, October 8th 1972 saw Morris attend an event in Portsmouth –trains were laid on by the Sunday Mercury, which took 840 ticket holders on a trip on board a special cruise in the Solent.



On Saturday 21st October 1972, Morris was invited to the “50th Annual Dinner” of the “Royal Naval Association” and on Sunday October 21st, he narrated a hymn service at Earl Shilton Parish Church which was attended by approximately 550 people and raised £176 for the church.

On Saturday 4th November, Morris was guest of honour at the opening of the Druid’s Heath Autumn Fair for Dr. Barnardo’s, and the next Saturday (November 11th) it was the Christmas Bazaar for the Leicester General Hospital League of Friends.

Later in November he opened the fourth annual “Scoubadoo Autumn Fair” to raise funds for the Scout Group. According to a news report he was “he most popular attraction” and “spent a considerable time raising cash from autographing photographs” and helped raise £150.

He is quoted as saying that the Crossroads actors "spend many hours a week lending their services to organisations on charitable work of one sort or another. On their travels they meet many unfortunate people, and ‘you people should count your blessings and remember there are others worse off than yourself.’”

What comes across in the scrapbooks is the idea that Morris was aware that his popularity could be used to support a variety of causes.

It is an honour and pleasure to look after them.

Finally, just a few more lovely examples from the collection...




Morris and Mona raising money and signing autographs

Carry on Wilf.


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