King Coel’s kittens
The king Coel’s kittens Group was established in Colchester in 1962 to raise funds to purchase resources for people and groups with special needs living in the local community. Under the guidance of Bill Tucker, a former journalist with Essex County Standard, a number of local young people, representing different organisations in the town, met to discuss ways in which they could raise funds to purchase equipment to support people and local organisations with special needs.
Over the year’s a number of events have been organised in the town by the group. In 1970 the first King Coel’s Kittens fireworks display took place in Castle Park with a small crowd enjoying a display set off by the members of the group. This has now developed into one of the biggest events being staged each year in Castle Park.
An annual tiddlywinks race took place in Culver Street, just a fun event which used to draw in the crowds but also raised valuable funds for local organisations.
For over twenty years residents welcomed the Kittens Christmas tree float which travelled around the streets of Colchester in the run up to Christmas. Members of the public looked forward to this annual visit and some people had collected their pennies over the year to give to the collectors when they knocked at the door.
The group has raised over half a million pounds over the fifty years, the money being used for the benefit of people and groups within the local community. In the early days the group were pleased if they raised a few hundred pounds from an event. Today they look to raise a few thousand pounds.
Just some of the items purchased over the years
Kitchen equipment, electrical goods, play equipment, furnishings, educational resources, water sports equipment, community bus, first aid equipment
Some of the groups supported
Headway, YMCA, Schools, Acorn Village, Scout And Guide Groups, St Helena Hospice, Toy Library, Hospital Radio Colchester, Yes.
The committee over the years has invited a selection of people to join the group. The group still has an original member plus a number of members who have completed over forty years’ service.
Our motto is ‘ONCE A KITTEN ALWAYS A KITTEN’
Assessment of requests
From 1962 the kittens have never given money to an organisation but have always purchased a tangible item. The organisation places a request with the kittens and the committee will discuss at a meeting of the group. Sometimes a shopping list is requested if an organisation is requesting a number of items. If a member of the kittens is involved with an organisation requesting support then that member does not have an input into the decision making process. The kittens do not continue to always support the same organisation. They aim to support a number of organisations within the local community.