A message from the Rev’d Roger Whatley, Service Chaplain

Posted by Admin on 26 September 2013, 1:07 pm

For the first fifteen years of my life I lived in Portsmouth. One of the biggest stores in the city was the Portsea Island Mutual Cooperative Society or Co-op for short, renowned for its twice yearly dividend payments. In those days the “divvie” was about 8% , in other words for every one hundred pounds you spent you would receive eight back. If you think about the bank rate today you can see this was a good deal. This was very useful in a single parent family like mine. The money was used to pay for school trips and holidays and on one occasion a new bicycle.
The amount of money you received back was dependant, of course, on how much you spent in the store. In our case everything, and I mean everything, was bought from the Co-op. Whilst my mates were riding branded cycles my bike proudly had a Co-op badge on the front. My clothes, shoes, food, even my first foreign holiday were all bought at the Co-op. I still remember my mother’s Co-op number which you gave every time you made a purchase. The store was renowned for its range of services, from funerals to toilet rolls and my family took full advantage of it!  Of course I never moaned when the ‘divvie’ paid for a school holiday or new sports gear but it was not “cool” to ride a Co-op bike.
I believe that in those days the Portsmouth Co-op was the most successful in the country. The success of the company was dependant on its members using it on every possible occasion. The store bought what it considered to be good value products and the customers had to be loyal and use the stores as much as possible. It was cooperation between store and customer that made it a success and benefited thousands of families like mine.
The success of the Fire Service where I am chaplain is based on cooperation. Team work is essential for safety and efficiency.  Cooperation is vital not only between the fire fighters but  between all the different emergency services who attend the fires, accidents and dramas which affect the lives of our Island residents. It is second nature for all those involved in such emergencies. If only all walks of life would be prepared to cooperate with all those they met what a different world we would live in. Road rage would disappear, violent offences would reduce and arguments and the resultant tensions would become productive discussions. I know everyone is different and not all people agree but cooperation is always possible. As a Christian I believe that caring for others as I would myself is one of the most important elements of our faith. To do this cooperation is essential. It is the same as with the Co-op of my youth. You only get a dividend if you are prepared to put something in to start with.


Roger, Service Chaplain.


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