Sister Helen Foster
The late Sister Helen Foster was involved in Church Army’s hops picking ministry from 1946 to 1953, in the Malvern Hills district. This work was started by a small team of "caravan" sisters at the request of Church Army with the support of the Bishop and the Diocese of Worcester.
In the first year they were accommodated in a country cottage, a caravan, a rectory and a farm. They would assemble in September after the seaside missions and visited each farm in turn. They cycled everywhere and were welcomed by the farmers. In the daytime they visited pickers at their cribs and they talked as they helped them to pick. Many families went every year and friendships were built.
In the evening the farmers would cook sausages, kippers, bacon, eggs and chips. As the light faded they prepared for a short lantern service, often with a sheet hanging between trees to show slides of the life of Jesus.
Church Army then acquired a daylight cinema van at a time when J Arthur Rank was making some Christian films. The Captain-in-charge drove the mobile cinema and toured the farms with them. The film Barabbas was a particular favourite and these films impacted many people’s lives.
Sunday school on the farms was held at a chosen spot either sitting on a tree trunk or on a fence sharing stories and singing songs and they were helped by a number of young people from parishes in Worcester.
There were also several gypsy camps and they came fruit picking and hop picking - they were very friendly and invited the Church Army team to teach their children.