In the summer of 1946, the school at Acton received a visit from Miss Holland who gave a talk about her missionary work at St Faith’s School in Peking.  This sparked an idea which nearly 80 years later is still a school tradition each autumn term.

Miss Holland spoke about Cheng Hung Chun, a girl whose family had been impoverished by the war in China but wished to complete her education and train to become a nurse.  The Upper School pupils decided to offer her financial support and in the first week of the Autumn Term they organised a small sale of items, most of which they had made during the Summer holidays.  This first sale raised £28 10s. 8d.

The following October Miss Edgeley organised the second event which was named “The Missionary Sale” and raised £36 from members of the VI, Upper V, Middle V and Lower V forms who took part in making and selling the articles.  Additionally, there was a competition for making the best dressed doll, which was won by Maureen Darkin of LVα, and a short play performed by the UVth.  The money raised helped not only Cheng Hung Chun but also two younger pupils at the school in Peking.

By 1948 the school magazine records “The missionary sale organised by Miss Edgley has now come to be regarded as an annual event.”  By now Cheng Hung Chun was sitting her university entrance examination and as many pupils as possible were being supported to remain in education.

In July 1950 Miss Edgley retired and Miss Titmuss took over the organisation of the sale which she continued to do until her retirement in 1967 when she was succeeded in both her teaching and charity roles by Mrs Wernick, a former Head Girl of the school.

Autumn 1951 brought a change of purpose and name for the sale occasioned by the founding of the People’s Republic of China.  As Miss Harold said in her Commemoration Day speech in spring 1952 “it is no longer wise or possible to direct” funds “to St Faith’s Mission School in Peking.”  After much discussion at the school’s charity meeting, it was decided to direct the funds to support five orphans who were being cared for at the Korean Mission in Seoul after the devastation caused by the war between North and South Korea.

The sale in 1955 “took a slightly different course from previous occasions. Individual Forms ran a number of stalls, including two new ventures, a stall of thrillers and a sandwich stall. Side-shows and bran tubs also contributed to the enjoyment of the afternoon.”  They also received news and photographs of the orphans which arrived shortly before the sale.

During the last academic year at Acton Miss Gover, Head of Science, kept a photographic record which is now held in the School’s Archive.  On Thursday 20th November 1973 she took these photographs of the last Korean Sale which raised £249.16½ of which £150 was sent to support the orphans and the rest was divided amongst a variety of charities.

The move of the school to Elstree saw the introduction of “The Charity Sale” on St Catherine’s Day 1974.  To quote the school magazine article: “As our Korean orphans are no longer in need of the support given to them in the past, the school decided that the money raised at the Sale would be donated to various funds. A number of charities was nominated by all forms and the proceeds from the Sale were distributed according to the vote of each girl. As in the past the stalls were numerous and varied, with the large selection of food being a particular attraction. The Sale proved a great success, raising the sum of over £400 and the efforts of the staff, parents and pupils involved are all greatly appreciated.”

The tradition of a Charity Sale on the afternoon of St Catherine’s Day has continued until the recent interruption caused by the current pandemic.  It is now held in the Sports Hall (since 2013) rather than stalls in each form room as in the past and the introduction of School Houses has added another dimension as each house runs stalls using their house colours for decoration.  There are awards given for ‘best overall area’ which are highly competitive.  Since 2004 each sale has a theme which have included ‘Through the Seasons’ (2004), ‘Habs High Street’ (2010), ‘The Movies’ (2017)  and ‘Cities Around the World’ (2018).