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SMIG Intergroup Histories & Archives

SMIG Group Histories and Archives

Please bear with us we are trying to reassemble our histories and archives.  

We will be listing them on this page in alphabetical order.  Should you wish any changes or to add to anything to any group's histories contact you group's GSR and they can contact me with any changes.

South Midlands Intergroup Archives

Although every care is taken to ensure that information given is accurate, we cannot guarantee that all meeting dates and times are up to date. Please phone before travelling to meetings where possible. The content of this page is directly supplied by local A.A members. It is not published by or on behalf of the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous(GB)
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Wednesday Night (19.30 - 20.30)

The Corner Suite, Christ Church, North Court, Abingdon, OX14 1PL

Formed November, 2010

This meeting was started by Robert of Abingdon on 10th of November 2010. It applied to join SMIG the following year and the first G.S.R. was Danny. Since well it has been progressing happily with about 15 regulars usually attending. 


Saturday (7.30 pm)

St. Michael’s Church Hall, Park Road, Abingdon

Formed December 9, 1979

Abingdon group was formed at a time when meetings were mainly concentrated in Oxford, Wantage, Banbury and Swindon.

AA was on the verge of quite a dramatic expansion in the area, but at the time the only Saturday meeting was in Bicester. It was also felt it would be good to introduce a wider variety of meetings - in those days the idea of a Discusssion Group was very innovative!

In fact, though Discussion, Step and other group formats soon developed in the area, Abingdon fairly soon became a ‘normal’ Share Meeting. Nowadays it holds a Big Book meeting once a month. And every year it celebrates a special Anniversary Party.

February 1999

B A M P T O N 

Wednesday Formed in 1965-66, succeeded by BURFORD in 1974 Bampton group played a major part in the early history of SMIG, not least because of its founder Bill of Bampton. Bill started the group in 1965-66 after he had been knocked down and badly injured by a lorry in Piccadilly Circus (he was sober!), after which he was unable to travel to other meetings. The Bampton meeting was held in his home Folly House on a Wednesday and was a truly unique experience. It was held in a beautifully furnished room, with antiques and paintings of hunting scenes (none of which were nicked!). At 8.50 pm there would be a knock on the door to signify we had 10 minutes to finish, after which the butler served coffee and hot sausage rolls. In winter there was a huge log fire which undoubtedly had a soporific effect on any newcomer who was still imbibing. Bill was also a founder of the Oxford Monday group and chief instigator of the Burford group. Barry W, who has researched this item, remembers two if not three of his early mini conventions were held in a marquee in the gardens of Bill’s house 

Barry W. (February 1999) 

B A N B U R Y 

Tuesday discussion (7.30 pm)St Paul’s Church Hall, Warwick Road, Banbury 

Formed June 1 1980; discontinued Spring, 1987 

In 1986 Alastair described how the group was started to complement Banbury Friday and provide an extra meeting for those who could not get further afield. It was decided to make it a discussion group, providing a different format from that of Friday. The group experienced some early difficulties and there were evenings when the secretary kept a lonely vigil! There were also some format changes (it became a Big Book meeting at one stage and at another incorporated a Step meeting once a month); but attendance then stabilised and quite a few members found sobriety here and went on to found groups elsewhere. Officers were changed quite frequently in order to encourage newer members into service, albeit with the guidance of the older hands never far away. 
Alastair (1986) 

Eventually it became an As Bill Sees It meeting. At this time we shared tea and coffee facilities with a very active Square Dance Club who met in the next room, the noise often being quite deafening! But we kept coming back and many of us found sobriety at this often informal meeting. As time went on the balance between Newcomers and people with any length of sobriety became very one-sided. There really weren’t sufficient people with enough sobriety to share their experience strength and hope with us fledglings. This, together with difficulties in continuing to use St Paul’s Hall made us regretfully decide to close the meeting in the Spring of 1987. 

Helen H. (November 1999) 

B A N B U R Y 

Tuesday discussion (7.45 pm) St Joseph’s Community Hall, Edmunds Road, Banbury 

Formed December 2 1992 

In the late 1980s and early ‘90s the Friday meeting remained consistently larger, attendance often numbering between 30-40. Many newer members were finding it difficult to travel further afield and it was felt the time had come to re-start a Tuesday meeting in Banbury. The inaugural meeting of Banbury Tuesday was held and well attended on December 2 1992. 
It was agreed this should be a discussion meeting based on As Bill Sees It, with a Step meeting once a month. This would be a ‘second’ Banbury meeting, drawing support from Friday if necessary, either financially or in terms of attendance. Occasionally the cry would go out ‘send us a few men (or women as the case may be)!’ in order to provide a balance for a growing number of newcomers. The group has its own Secretary and Treasurer, but shares Friday’s literature, coffee and tea, and is represented by the same GSR at SMIG meetings. After a period of fluctuating numbers the meeting settled down to a steady 12-15, quite often rising to 18-20 and sometimes more. Perhaps inevitably as group officers changed and the origins of the Tuesday meeting were less well remembered, communication between the two groups fell off somewhat and there was some irritation that Friday seemed to be making all the decisions. A proper AA solution was found at a joint Conscience Meeting in April 1999 when it was agreed to make Banbury a multi-meeting group with the two meetings having equal status. A quarterly Conscience Meeting alternating between Fridays and Tuesdays is held at which matters of common concern to the group as a whole, as well as to carrying the message, are discussed. It was at such a Conscience Meeting in July 2001 it was decided to seek another venue as the Upper Hall was due for restoration, and we moved to the present excellent venue in August 2001. The Group is now a Steps and "As Bill sees it" meeting attracting an increasing number of members interested in discussing the AA recovery programme. 

Sylvie N. (April 2003) 

B A N B U R Y 

Friday (8 pm) St Joseph’s Community Hall, Edmunds Road, Banbury 

Formed November 1961. 

This was Banbury’s first group and one of the first in the SMIG area. In 1986 Judy H. wrote “As far as I can find out the Group was started soon after the Elms changed from a maternity home to a psychiatric home in the early sixties. I should imagine it was proposed by Dr Harris and Dr Williams, then working at the Ashurst Clinic, Littlemore Hospital, Oxford. My first meeting there was October 1966”. We know the group was already represented at the first SMIG meeting in November 1968; its first report to SMIG in December 1971 read “It was known that the group was growing in numbers...” The earliest surviving record of Banbury meetings is from November 8 1974. They were then still held at the Elms Clinic; Judy was Secretary at the time and kept a note over the next months of attendance and speakers. The former numbered from 6 -18, and the latter ranged from Oxford, Wantage and Coventry. No meetings were held over the Christmas period then. It’s quite thought-provoking to realise that there were then only six meetings in Oxfordshire, all held on weekday evenings. Cyril M. writes “My first attendance was on January 17, 1975, some six weeks into sobriety. Larry (USAF) was in the chair and the attendance was 13. “The Group had a strong nucleus of 9 members all attending on a regular basis and was well supported by members of the USAF from neighbouring Upper Heyford base. Over the following few years numbers remained fairly constant, but I do recall on one occasion we were down to 4 and one of these was drunk! It was a standing joke with Jerry that if our numbers did not reach double figures I would expect him to go out with sandwich boards! “In August 1978 the ceiling of the meeting room at the Elms Clinic fell in - not as a result of our meetings! Consequently we moved to the Horton Post-Graduate centre and, to fit in, we had to alter the meetings from Friday to Thursdays. We used the Board Room but could not make our own tea and coffee and had to purchase these from the ground floor bar. This was not the ideal “coffee shop” to take a newcomer as we were not alone and alcohol was readily available. Once repairs had been completed we moved back into the Elms Clinic and reverted to holding the meetings on a Friday with some relief. But at least the Group kept going and that was the main thing.” 

Cyril M. (1998) 

From about the mid-1980s the group became consistently larger and eventually it was agreed it would be a good idea to find bigger premises. The group moved to St John’s in the summer of 1988, and remained until August 2001 when the building became due for reparation work. It was more convenient in all respects as we had exclusive use of the coffee/tea-making facilities in the adjoining room and no longer needed to trundle literature and refreshments to and from each meeting. This also applies to our present excellent venue. On the last Friday of each month we change our usual ‘share’ format to a Big Book Meeting. In April 1999 Banbury Friday combined with Banbury Tuesday to form a multi-meeting group. 

B I C E S T E R 

Saturday (7.30 pm) The Courtyard Centre, Launton Road, Bicester 

Formed March 5, 1977 EARLY DAYS At the time the Bicester Group was launched there was no regular Saturday or Sunday meeting in the SMIG area and the members of that era felt there was a tremendous need for a week-end meeting. At the inaugural one it was decided the format should be that of a Discussion Group, the speakers choosing their own theme. To assist and avoid duplication a list of possible themes was available. The Nuns in the Presentation Convent, Bicester, where the group first met, were very helpful and welcoming, asking only a low rent for the room we used in a part of the Convent known as the Cottage. At first there were only three to five or six members per meeting, but this soon grew as members of the SMIG area began to realise how helpful ‘discussion’ was to our recovery. The first Secretary was Tom B who happened to be a Chiropodist, and the first Treasurer was Barry W, who was a Dentist. Within the inaugural meeting it very quickly became known as the ‘Foot and Mouth Group’, sometimes referred to as the ‘Hoppers and Choppers’!! One attraction was Dublin Pat’s home-made cakes with our coffee. The Group grew and grew and became too big to be effective as a Discussion Group, so the Conscience of the Meeting changed it to a Speaker Meeting. Ann W. (March 1999) ..... AND LATER At first a larger room in the Convent was used by Alanon but as time went by the AA meeting grew to such an extent that we swapped rooms with Alanon. Later, for no reason that I can recall, we moved again into the Chapel. In 1989 a decision was made to close the Convent and sadly the Bicester Group had to find a new venue. On June 24, 1989 the move was made to the Flying Fox, a meeting place for young Bicester people. It was never ideal because of the noise from youngsters at play outside the meeting room, and the venue was changed to the Courtyard in late 1989 or early 1990. In March 1990 a new non-smoking meeting was formed on a Wednesday. It was not highly successful and eventually folded possibly due to the cost of the rent. Although the Courtyard room was most comfortable and convenient, the cost was a strain on AA finances and it was always a struggle to survive. The Group moved to Toppers in the Causeway on August 6, 1994, and it was like moving from the Ritz to a dosshouse! But it was cheap. There was a constant flow of people unconnected with AA causing disruption and the attendance diminished. We stayed at Toppers until October 7, 1995. Then it was decided that those of us who could afford to do so would increase our pot contribution to ensure the viability of a return back to the Courtyard. As soon as we returned attendances increased and any financial problems there might have been disappeared overnight. Today Bicester is a thriving group with a regular attendance of some 30-40 recovering alcoholics and able to make substantial contributions to SMIG, thus enabling us to concentrate on the Group purpose to stay sober and help others to achieve sobriety. 

Cyril M. (May 1999) 

B R A C K L E Y 

Thursday (7.45 pm) Methodist Church Hall, Brackley, Northants. 

Formed Autumn 1981 The first secretary of the group was Rod who reported to the December 1981 SMIG meeting that “this is a new group and financially OK in these early days”. In March 1982, the group reported a fall in attendance and requested support. “In reply to a question as to why Brackley was affiliated to SMIG as it is in Northants, it was established they had requested this. A suggestion was made that before a new group started, Intergroup should perhaps be contacted so that attention could be drawn to the recommended Guide Lines; however it was pointed out that a group did not need Intergroup’s permission to get going! Nevertheless, it was agreed that such a contact could be mutually beneficial.” In November 1999, Val E. added that the group has continued over the years to be a small friendly, well-supported and self-sufficient group. In the early 1990s the attendance was higher as it was frequented by a group of wonderful recovering Americans from the nearby Upper Heyford Air Base who contributed from their Big Book study knowledge and much more besides. When they departed in the mid-1990s they were greatly missed but the group continued to function and nowadays carries the message to those still suffering, with meetings averaging 10-15 newcomers and grateful recovering alcoholics. 
B U C K I N G H A M 

Sunday (7.30 pm) Parish Room, St Bernardine’s Church, Chandos Road, Buckingham 

Formed Easter Sunday, 1987 At the time of its founding by five members there was only one other Sunday group in the SMIG area. The format remains as a ‘chair’ meeting with invited speaker and general sharing after. General service has always been encouraged among members who have served variously as Regional Representatives, Telephone Liaison Officer, Share Rep, Chairman of Intergroup, and Conference Delegate. Apart from a couple of very minor format changes the group continues with some seven ‘home group’ members and attendance around 15. 

Roger H. (January 1998) 


Wednesday (7.30 pm) 

Burford Community Hospital, Sheep Street, Burford Formed April 1974 The meeting was formed as an alternative to the Bampton meeting whose closing was imminent. The first Secretary was Farmer Brian, with Ken as the Treasurer, and the meetings took place on a Wednesday at the Church Hall. It was here that I was taken by Norman of Woodstock on the first Wednesday in December, 1974, and for several years became a regular attender. The hall was most adequate for our purposes except for the heating and it was often said that you needed a sheepskin to go into the meeting, although not outside! It was advantageous to be the speaker as Ken would bring a single bar electric fire placed close to the speaker. Betty took over from Brian in 1975 and proceeded to produce cakes and sandwiches galore. For about three years I was working in South Wales and travelled to Burford every Wednesday evening, and if too late to eat on the way, I knew I could get a snack at the meeting on arrival. Betty and I were once taken separately by the Murder Squad to “assist with enquiries”, all as a result of being early arrivals at the Church Hall and a suspicious death in the vicinity. Sadly some of those at my first meeting are no longer with us - Betty and Ken have passed away. Two American Servicemen, Larry and Howard, were regulars and they would go to the Ley Clinic in Oxford and collect patients to bring them to the meeting. Both are retired from the Services and are still active and sober in AA - Larry in Medway, Ohio, and Howard in Seattle. Occasionally I still go. It is still on a Wednesday evening but has for some time been held at Burford Community Hospital. 

Cyril M. (August 1999) 

C H I P P I N G N O R T O N 

Thursday (7.30 pm) Highlands Day Centre, Burford Rd, Chipping Norton, Oxon. Formed October 1, 1992 After joining AA in July 1992, Don, who lives in Chipping Norton, and his sponsor Mike, a Fellowship member with 40+ years of sobriety behind him, decided there ought to be a group in Chipping Norton. Accordingly, SMIG was approached and its blessing obtained. Preparations were put in hand; the new group was registered with General Service Office and a venue for meetings was sought. Eventually permission was obtained to use the Outpatient Waiting Room at Chipping Norton Hospital. It was a bit stark, but it served the purpose; there being no kitchen, coffee was made in the consultant’s office! The first meeting nearly fell flat on its face, mainly because Don didn’t know the ropes and Mike’s ideas about meetings were from over 40 years back when AA in this country was in its infancy. However, after some discussion (which got a bit heated at times) we decided that meetings should be held along the now traditional lines - after the Preamble, a Big Book reading, then a visiting speaker sharing experience, strength and hope, followed by round-the-room sharing and ending with the Promises and Serenity Prayer. We then held an election; Irene became our first secretary, with Clive as treasurer and Mark as Literature Secretary. Mike never attended meetings regularly because of poor health and died in 1996 aged 80. After some months of meeting at the Hospital, we had the opportunity to relocate to the present much more congenial accommodation. We are still meeting there, currently with a core membership of around 10 (only two of whom live in Chipping Norton!); attendance fluctuates between 10 and around 16. Meetings are non-smoking, with the first meeting of the month being a Step meeting and the last an Open meeting. 

Don T. (November 1997) 


Sunday lunch (12.15 pm) Fleet Meadow Community Centre, Jubilee Way, Didcot Formed September 29, 1996 

Founder members were Bill S, Richard S, Dougal, Alan, Val, Lawrence. Bill writes “When I first came into the Fellowship in February 1996 I just could not put into words how I felt about this brand new way I was being shown how to live without a drink. I was at a meeting seven days a week - and why wouldn’t I be? - before that I was at the pub or drinking seven days a week! On Sundays I used to go to a lunch-time meeting in Caversham, outside Reading. I had asked why Didcot hadn’t a meeting as a lot of people in the Fellowship lived there, and was told a Tuesday meeting had been tried but failed as it was ill attended; it was the same evening as Wantage only 8 miles away. “I saw a a gap for Sunday lunch-time and made some enquries via a County Councillor friend who came up with the Northbourne Community Centre in Church Street. After drumming up support from other meetings we formed a committee and I booked the venue for one month in advance from Sunday, September 29, 1996. Thirteen people turned up and we had out first Conscience meeting - Val agreed to be secretary for 6 months, Alan to be treasurer. I opened up, did tea and coffee and got chairs for the meeting. Sometimes - especially when there was a Convention on - our numbers dwindled to 3-4. Then when we were a year old we were told we could not have the hall for that day. Kit made some enquiries and came up with Fleet Meadow Community Centre and at a group Conscience Meeting we decided to move permanently.” The meeting is a Chair meeting - known in its early days as the Sweet Meeting. 

Bill S. (February, 1999) 
F A R I N G D O N 

Friday (7.45 pm) Faringdon United Reform Church, Park Road, Faringdon Formed February 1981 

Margaret W. writes “Having been sober for about eight years and very involved in the recovery programme, it struck me that much of my time was spent travelling long distances to attend meetings. On Twelfth Step work the mileage clocked up even further. Talking to various members from Swindon, Oxford, Cheltenham, Cirencester and Stow on the Wold it seemed to each of us that Faringdon would fill a need and be a handy place for a new group. Living in the next village of Lechlade it fell to me to enquire around Faringdon to find a suitable venue. “The local doctors were supportive but could not suggest a suitable room in the centre of the town; however a local policeman suggested the church and gave me the address of a Catholic priest. Father Leo Target welcomed me into his house and over a cup of tea we discussed the possible venues available in the town. He had no church of his own and dealt with the needs of his parishioners by sharing a Methodist Hall. While he talked I noticed a mug on his desk with an inscription on the side. He saw me trying to read what it said and passed it to me. “It read ‘ To Father Leo Target ... Honorary member of Alcoholics Anonymous - Guernsey’. ‘No, no, I’m not an alcoholic’ he said, ‘but whilst I was on Guernsey I was approached by a lady called Pru asking if I would help her start the first AA group there.’ “Well, I knew Pru from Cheltenham very well. She, like me, was not a Catholic but we had both asked him to help us. Father Leo was highly amused. He suggested that I call into the local Community Centre and ask for Mac. After a quick word with the town clerk I approached Mac and we were offered a room and good sized kitchen. 5 per meeting was the agreed rent and I wondered whether we would get enough members to cover this. “I remember each person who came through the door of that first meeting. Good friends all. Pru later told me that Father Leo had once been a ‘song and dance man’ in the music halls. During the 1939-45 war he had escaped from a prisoner of war camp and on the border with Switzerland had promised God that if he were rescued he would become a priest. He has retired now and his dear face has the glow of real spirituality. A true friend to AA. “As Faringdon Group became more established we approached the Americans at Fairford and even held meetings on the base. An open invitation was always on the noticeboard and one or two service people attended most meetings. Their Actions Officer was always helpful. Those were wonderful days as I learned to change myself and live our daily programme.” Clive F. continues “As Margaret mentioned up until 1990 the group had an American presence. This slowly faded away as the base at Fairford was closed. They were always active in service positions within the group. During the late 1980s Faringdon became part of South Midlands Intergroup. It was about this time that Margaret moved from Lechlade to Cirencester. “Throughout the 1990s the group has always been self supporting, making regular contributions to Intergroup. Generally we have had regular attendances of around 10 to 15 members; however there have been lean times when attendances have fallen to 2 to 3. Currently, in 1999, we are well attended with about 12 regular members. “1999 saw the most dramatic change in the group since its founding. The Community Centre closed due to financial problems and we were forced to find a new meeting place at extremely short notice. We were put in touch with Father Martin Swiffin of the Faringdon United Reform Church who agreed to let us use a meeting room in the Church. The first meeting was held on Friday, August 6, 1999. All the members present at that first meeting agreed that the new venue met our requirements admirably with improved facilities over our original room.” Margaret W. and Clive F. (summer 1999) In May 2001 Patrick S added “Following this milestone in the history of the Faringdon Group, the meeting continued to grow in strength and fellowship. Accessibility to the rooms, better car parking and other facilities contributed to making the Friday meeting ‘an ideal way to start the weekend’. Many new faces chaired the meeting during that year and visitors, old and new, renewed and established friendships with the group. The end of the year was signalled by a Candlelight Meeting on December 8. All Chairs from the year were invited, with many attending, as well as members of Al-Anon. A festive and sober end to the Millennium.” 


Saturday (10.00 am to 12.00 am; All Closed) 

St John's Church Hall, Hempton Road, Hempton, OX15 0QT

Formed July, 2008

This is an 11 Step Meditation Meeting

It was started by Patti, Marcus and John in July 2008 and is generally a small but strong meeting with a core of people with in excess of a decade of sobriety. Visitors come and go and are welcome, of course! It can be quite chilly in the winter months, so advisable to wear warm clothing. We start with a period of quiet meditation. We rotate the secretary pretty much on a weekly basis and it works for us well thus far!

April 2013

M I L T O N K E Y N E S 

The AA message of hope arrived in Milton Keynes during the mid-1970s, the first meeting being held in Stony Stratford. It was attended by three people. Members from surrounding groups supported this newly formed group in the beginning and, by 1979, four separate meetings were established in the area. In 1980 the four groups amalgamated into AA Milton Keynes, holding two meetings a week in the city centre. It was there that the foundations of a strong and healthy branch of the Fellowship were forged. As well as the AA message being carried to the suffering alcoholic, much time and effort was put into PI work - details of contact telephone numbers appeared in local newspapers, and doctors’ surgeries, the hospital, Schools, etc. were targeted with information. In late 1984 AA Milton Keynes applied to join SMIG. In 1987 AA Milton Keynes moved to its present premises in Bletchley, and in 1989 a meeting was opened at the David Baxter Centre in Central Milton Keynes. In 1992 the Stony Stratford group was formed. Also in 1992 Woodhill Prison was built within the city boundary and a Prison AA meeting was organised by various local members. This meeting still continues to the present time. As we enter the new Millennium there is now a meeting held every day within Milton Keynes, including a lunch-time group. Experiences, strengths and hopes are shared regularly, and the emphasis is on recovery in AA and working the programme. Lesley A. (February 2000) Details of AA Milton Keynes groups belonging to SMIG are given below. 

M I L T O N K E Y N E S 

Sunday (11 am) 
Bletchley Old People’s Rest Centre (rear of Library), Westfield Road, Bletchley. Formed December, 1995 

In 1995 there were only three meetings in Milton Keynes: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. A huge gap had resulted from the closure of the old Monday meeting earlier that year. Discussion of how another meeting might get under way was a regular feature of the Prison Rota meetings - which drew its members from all of the three groups. During October of that year, John visited Ireland and was amazed to find that even small towns (of 500-1000 people) had meetings every day of the week; and often two on Sunday - which many newcomers find to be a particularly difficult day. Together with Hubert, who had recently moved to Milton Keynes from Galway and who missed his Sunday home group back home, the Sunday meeting was born. The first meeting was held on the second Sunday of December. At a short Group Conscience afterwards, we adopted a simple format of Chapter 5, chair and then opening up the meeting to give maximum time for sharing. Des was a regular tea-maker for over two years. From day one we have always had tea before and after the meeting so that nervous newcomers can be made welcome, and all of us have the chance to share with another alcoholic. Many thanks to Chris and Ian who have also given extended service in this post. The smallest meeting (to date) has been two members and a newcomer (in May 1997), with over 30 at some meetings earlier this year. Whatever the numbers we try to have everything ready a half-hour beforehand so that visitors and members can be welcomed as they arrive. Many thanks to Frank, Nicky, Jackie, Vince, Joe, Ernie and all the members who do regular service. As I write, I pray for another seven members whom we hope will find their way back to us some day. John M. (August 1999) 

M I L T O N K E Y N E S 

Monday (8 pm) 
Bletchley Old People’s Rest Centre (behind Library), Westfield Road, Bletchley 

The Group moved to its present venue in December 1989. Originally the meetings were held on Monday and Friday nights. About three years ago it was agreed we merged the two meetings, resulting in the single Monday meeting. This has proved successful. The group has a nucleus of 12-14 members, but regularly welcomes visitors increasing the attendance to around 25. All meetings are open. We emphasise the importance of spreading the message to the newcomer and working the programme, one day at a time. Lesley A. (February 2001) 

M I L T O N K E Y N E S 

Tuesday (11.30 am) 
Community Centre, 23 London Road, Stony Stratford Formed February 1999 

Liz, Sandra, Sheila and Agnes started our first week-day lunch time meeting in the Bletchley Methodist Church Hall on Tuesday, February 18, 1999. It was well attended but so very cold. We lasted till our second winter when, in order to inject some comfort into our meeting, we moved to Stony Stratford Community Centre on February 1, 2000. Changing the day now means that in the Milton Keynes area we have a meeting every day. We have grown to eight group members and work well together to take care of our group and carry the AA message. (Spring 2001) 

M I L T O N K E Y N E S 

Tuesday (8 pm) 
Closed Women’s Non-Restrictive Heelands Meeting Place, Milton Keynes Formed October 2001 

The group started out with just three members. By the year’s end it had grown to six and, by early 2003, to 14. Disabled access, no smoking. Kate, March 2003 M I L T O N K E Y N E S Wednesday (8 pm) Room 8, Rear of David Baxter Centre, 63 North Seventh St., Central Milton Keynes Disabled access, no smoking. All meetings open. 

M I L T O N K E Y N E S 

Thursday (8 pm) 
Community Centre (opposite Working Men’s Club), 23 London Road, Stony Stratford, Milton Keynes Formed August 1992 

The meeting was formed in 1992, splitting from the Wednesday night group due to new non-smoking regulations in their room. It is a smoking meeting. Original group members were Agnes, Dick, Jim, Shirley, Michael, Liz and Sue. The format decided at the first group conscience (and still the same today) were: an open meeting on the first Thursday of each month. Then we have alternating meetings of Chair, Step, Chair, Discussion. The meeting starts at 8 pm and closes at 9.30 pm. Attendance has varied from ten to forty with a core membership of about six members. Shirley (November 1999) 

M I L T O N K E Y N E S 

Big Book, Friday (8 pm) 
Christ the Cornerstone Church, Saxon Gate, Central Milton Keynes Formed June 1999 

The group was formed by Dave, Tim, Plunkett. The numbers have slowly built up and are now 15-20. We have an active committee with all posts filled. (December 2000) M I L T O N K E Y N E S Saturday (8 pm) Church of Christ the Cornerstone, Central Milton Keynes All meetings open. Disabled access; no smoking 


Beginners’ Sunday (6 pm)

McInness Room, Warneford Hospital, Headington, Oxford.

Formed January 30, 2000

The Secretary at the first meeting was Simon P. and, after the Preamble, he asked for the first paragraph of Chapter 3 of the Big Book to be read out. Everyone was then asked to introduce themselves and say how long they had been sober; if it was more than a year they were asked to say ‘sober more than one year’, regardless of how many.

Simon then introduced Bill from Buckingham to share. It was recommended to listen to the similarities not the differences. Afterwards Simon shared briefly then called out names for people to share. The first and last speakers were over one year and everyone between had under a year’s sobriety. The meeting was attended by 21 people and closed at 7 pm with the Serenity Prayer.

The inspiration for this meeting came in part from a tape by Frank Milos of Evergreen Park, Illinois, given to Peter K. and Robert S. by their sponsor. The theme for Frank’s talk was Spirituality Through the Steps. The vivid description he gives of how it is (and was) for many of us planted the seed for this meeting. He tells of how they started a beginners’ meeting before the main one of his home group. He starts his talks by telling newcomers that most of them won’t make it, and most of them get mad at this. They don’t do anything different from any other meeting but use the truth, the Big Book and enthusiasm.

Peter K. (March 2000)

From all accounts this is a meeting where most newcomers find it especially easy to share.


Sunday (7.30 pm)

McInness Room, Warneford Hospital, Headington, Oxford.

Formed August 1975 (Holyrood)

The meeting originated at Holyrood House, South Leigh, near Witney, in August 1975. This was a Psychiatric Hospital dealing with alcohol.

In 1977, when the hospital closed, the meeting moved to Littlemore Hospital which housed the Alcohol Unit run by the local Council. Due to reorganisation the unit was relocated to the Chilton Clinic at the Warneford Hospital, Headington, in 1985. The venue was a spacious room on the ground floor (the Detox patients’ common room actually). One member had been a patient in the unit in 1958 and then it had been his bedroom! Members of the Fellowship were invited to show the AA video and give a talk to patients as part of a three-week course.

In 1993, again due to reorganisation, the meeting moved to its present venue, the McInness Room on the first floor of the Warneford’s main hospital building.

David P. and Kevin B. (June 1999)

In December 2002, it became a Big Book study group


Monday (7.30 pm)

Wesley Memorial Church, New Inn Hall Street, Oxford

Formed in the mid-1960s.

‘Oxford Monday’ was the very first group in Oxford, started in the mid-sixties by Bill of Bampton, Irish Paddy, Ben, among others. The meeting was held at the Methodist Centre in New Inn Hall Street.

In the early seventies, the Group moved to the Cherwell Centre, Norham Gardens, North Oxford. This was an extremely comfortable venue run by Nuns, who in the earlier years always prepared the tea and coffee for the Group! It flourished and stayed at Norham Gardens until the end of 1996 when the Nuns required the room for other purposes. During much of this period the meeting room also provided the venue for SMIG’s quarterly meetings. In addition, every summer the gardens of the Cherwell Centre became the lively scene for SMIG’s annual Mini-Convention, a large marquee occupying part of the gardens. The setting and refreshments - and no doubt the speakers! - drew a good attendance from far and wide.

From the Cherwell Centre the Group moved to the Quakers’ Meeting House in St Giles, where it stayed for only one year. This was not very suitable for many reasons, so early in 1998 the poor Group moved yet again: this time to be comfortably re-settled in the Methodist Centre where it began over thirty years earlier!

Ann W. (March 1999)

Since the Wesley Memorial Hall is closed on Bank Holidays, we have on these days met in the elegant surroundings of Ma Belle restaurant at the invitation of one of our group members.

David C (May 2001)


Tuesday lunch (12.30 pm)

St Giles Church Parish Rooms, 10 Woodstock Road, Oxford.

Formed September 17, 1985

The group was started by Pete (the Guitar) and Big Mike F. (deceased), without reference to Intergroup, as it was felt there was a need for more lunchtime meetings. It was originally a Slogans meeting, based on an idea by Father Leonard (USA).

The Group copy of the Big Book was subscribed to by the founder members and is inscribed thus: “Donated by the members for the members” It was signed by all who were present at the inaugural meeting: Michael F, Pete H, Andy S, John A, Celia C, Maureen G, Andy P, Julia G, Kevin B, Mary, Audrey, John A.

Today it is a straight ‘Share’ meeting, all of which are Open.

Sheila B. (January 1998); Peter H


Tuesday (8 pm)

Dovecote Community Centre, Dunnock Way, Blackbird Leys, Oxford.

Formed January 27 1998

For the first two and a half years the meeting struggled to maintain a regular attendance ; although there was a core membership of about five, numbers fluctuated between 5 and 10 . Many people only attended for a few weeks at a time. During this period the meeting was only just self supporting. Secretaries in this period included Andy, Dougal, Roy, Simon and Big John. Sadly in 1999 Dougal, one of the co founders of the group lost his battle for life after a short illness. He is missed especially for all the effort he put into starting the meeting and keeping it going in the early days.

In March 2001 the group moved to a new location within the same building complex called the Clockhouse. The room was far more comfortable and had a more relaxing atmosphere. The building had better facilities but the major improvement was that the parking area was more secure as it had good lighting and security cameras !

From 2001 to 2003, attendance remained constant at about fifteen, while Big John, Simon and Andy took the role as Secretary.

From 2003 attendance grew steadily to about twenty five and in the second half of 2004 the group moved to a bigger room in the Clockhouse to accommodate what had become a lively meeting. Secretaries in 2003 were John S and Grange.

Since the end of 2004, on the first Tuesday of every month, the meeting has begun with a reading of a pre war version of the preamble and of the original manuscript version of How it Works ; and every week, attendees are invited to join in at the end of the reading of The Promises, from "We think not". Secretaries in 2004 and 2005 were Graham, James, Dick, Ian and Neil.

James J (December 2005 )


Wednesday lunchtime (12.30 pm)

University Catholic Chaplaincy, Newman Rooms, Rose Place (opposite Meadow Gates), St Aldates, Oxford

Formed Spring 1983 at Blackfriars

One day in 1982 I met an “oldtimer” in St Giles, Oxford, mentioned how good it would be to have a lunch time meeting and thought perhaps I could start one. It was suggested I should “get a bit more sobriety ... and we’ll see what can be done”!

Later, around April 1983 the Blackfriars Wednesday Lunchtime Meeting was opened with myself as Secretary and Pam as Treasurer and Literature Secretary. The meeting took off as we thought it might, as there seemed to be a particular need for such a meeting.

It was well supported by old members and also a transient membership from the New Theatre and The Playhouse nearby. We were joined by stagehands and electricians and the occasional actor, as well as others who found it hard to get to an evening meeting. It was also popular for people working for the University because of its central position. After my twelve months as secretary, I handed over to Tim who later passed on the secretaryship to Pam.

As we know there are now other lunchtime meetings in the area which are, I am sure, a haven of encouragement to many. For me it was certainly a mid-week refuge in early sobriety and it was one of the meetings that helped me to grow within the Fellowship. The Brothers at Blackfriars were always helpful. I particularly remember Brother Kevin who has since died.

The meetings began at 12.30pm and I remember that at 1 pm the Brothers were summoned to lunch by the prolonged ringing of a handbell.

Tom B. (May 1999)

Since then the meeting has moved to its present venue and inevitably the theatrical element has diminished.


Wednesday (7.30 pm)

New Road Baptist Church (next to Bonn Sq.), Westgate

Formed early summer 1984.


Early in 1984, Michael Hall, head of Simon House in Paradise Street, invited AA to start a group, with a view to encouraging those living on the premises (a strict no alcohol rule) to attend meetings. Richard S, a sober member of AA, had first put down the bottle in Simon House. Alex the Boat and Laurence also had connections.

Intergroup supported the group for three months or so, and it took about five years for it to settle (eventually 8-9 steady members, including resident Eddie). The first Secretary was Mike C, followed by Philip S. Then Andy S/Alex did it for two years in three-month stints. The group has always been Open and Smoking; the format is an ordinary ‘share’ and the group is known for a certain type of deep sharing.

As told by Andy S to Mike M. (May 1999)

In September 2000 the group moved to its present location. The main reason for the move was Simon House’s policy to refuse entry to any person who had been drinking. As this is not part of how an AA group should be run we decided-quite reluctantly-to change venues. Many of the people who come to this group are in their early days of recovery and to turn them away was just not appropriate to our philosophy. We departed on good terms with the management and staff of Simon House.

The new venue has brought some minor changes: it is now a non-smoking meeting, and it also much more “female friendly”! - i.e. the decor is more becoming and this seems to have attracted more female members. Tea and coffee are now served from china mugs/cups as opposed to disposable beakers. It is altogether a cleaner and more refreshing atmosphere.

But the main ambience of the group remains the same: we are still known for our “deep sharing” (without being conceited) and there is sometimes a good deal of emotional input-plenty of tears and laughter. We also get regular attendance from people who are members of other rehabilitation programmes; their presence is very welcome and they contribute greatly. We are self supporting, with regular contributions to SMIG. The group secretary, Jason, has been in this position since the group moved.

Kevin W. (June 2001)


Thursday (6 pm to 7 pm, all open)

Cornmarket Street, Oxford, OX1 3EY

Formed June 2007

The first meeting took place on 24 June 2007. There were three founding members: Dave the Builder, Chris the Scientist and Jocelyn. 

We started the meeting in a convenient central location at a time which would suit members on their way home from work. 

The vicar of St Michael's was most generous in providing us with a venue at a very low cost. 

We chose to have meetings with a reading from " Alcoholics Anonymous", "Living Sober", "How Bill Sees it", or "Came to believe it" because although Oxford had a Step Meeting and a Big Book Meeting there were no "topic" based meetings in Oxford. The selected literature is rotated through the month. The secretary asks a member to choose a short reading and may share back on this and then the meeting is open for sharing. We all learn a lot about the programme in this way. Owing to its location, time and duration the meeting is attended by a lot of newcomers from the Alcohol Recovery Programme, visitors and students from the university. The format gives rise to extremely honest sharing and the experience of old timers is a real benefit to all of us. 

We operate a chip system. Initially this was financed by a donation from anonymous members. Later the meeting had to find a way of paying for the chips within the traditions. We now periodically pass round a separate bag to collect funds to replenish the chips. On the question of finance and traditions we encountered another question. It was proposed that we made a donation to the church to express our gratitude but as we could not finance an outside enterprise decided to increase our rent to show our gratitude. 

The meeting has gone from strength to strength in terms of numbers, and there are often meetings after the meeting at local coffee shops, real evidence of strong love and fellowship. 


Thursday (7.30 pm)

McInness Room, Warneford Hospital, Headington

Formed 1964-65

The group was started at the request of Dr Tony Williams. I believe the late Cyril (Wantage) and Voddy R. were instrumental in starting it at the Ashurst Clinic. In 1970-71 when the new Ley Clinic opened, the meeting moved there.

I remember that in 1969 the Secretary was a man from Dublin called George, who each Thursday gave a chair on what the chair had meant to say - which was longer than the chair itself! In 1969-70 there used to be a group of anti-AAs who sat in the foyer of the Ashurst and ‘slagged’ people going to the AA meeting, calling them chickens, brainwashers, etc. I think their main complaint was that they had been banned from attending as day patients at the clinic because of their drinking.

Ken H. was Secretary of the group for many years when it moved to the Ley Clinic. In the early days patients often came straight to the clinic from Oxford Prison as well as from the Simon Hostel and Littlemore Hospital, especially from the old and first drying out unit known as B8 in Littlemore. There was never a dull moment at the meetings as you invariably had practising alcoholics attending. I remember the late and loveable Frankie S being bribed to leave the meeting as he insisted on playing his mouth organ.

In 1985 the alcoholic unit moved to the Warneford where the meetings were held in a room which was my old ward - happy and unhappy memories. In recent years the meeting moved upstairs to (alas) a non-smoking venue.

Barry W. (November 1999)

This is no longer a purely alcohol unit but deals with addiction generally with the inevitable result that fewer patients come directly to meetings. However contact is maintained between the group and the hospital. All meetings are open as has always been the tradition of this group.


Thursday Women’s Group (7.30pm)

St Mary’s Convent, St Mary’s Road, Oxford

Formed October 2000 : Closed August 2004

Gabrielle and Dilys had mulled over the idea of starting a women’s group in Oxford for about a year, but different things cropped up and nothing was done about it. The first meeting was held at St Mary’s Convent on October 4, 2000; it had an attendance of four members and ideas were broached as to the format the meeting should take. It was finally decided to have a discussion group with the chair choosing their own topic and then the meeting is thrown open.

We started off in a small room in the convent but as the meeting grew, we have moved into the refectory to accommodate our growing numbers. The nuns have been extremely supportive, with the meeting being asked to be ‘opened’ so one or two could attend. They have been impressed by the spirituality of the 12-Step programme.

Our first secretary was Ann W, with Dilys following in her footsteps. The attendance has grown tremendously over the past months as word of the meeting spread.

Dilys ( Summer 2001)

By mid 2004 falling numbers had lead us to accept that it was no use struggling on as we were and we took the decision to close the meeting.

After discussing this with Brian L, Chairman of Intergroup, we decided to donate all our surplus literature and books to the Prison service and our set of scrolls went to the Abingdon Group as their set was in a bad state of repair. The meeting is sorely missed.

Dilys ( Spring 2006 )


Friday Breakfast (7.30 am)

St Giles’ Church Parish Rooms, 10 Woodstock Road, Oxford

Formed October 1991

The meeting was started by four members of the Fellowship in October 1991, led by Marion B. who had founded a similar early morning group in London several years earlier. It was decided that the meeting should run from 7.30-8.30 am, so members could go on to work straight after the meeting.

Marion B. became the first secretary with Nigel P. its initial GSR. From the start fresh percolated coffee and hot croissants have been served at all meetings; in earlier years a full cooked breakfast was available at the meeting nearest Christmas. From 5 or 6 members, numbers grew to 10-12 and then on. By 1995 figures had reached 20+.

Nigel P. (1995)

And in Spring 2003, the Group is still thriving!


Friday ‘Step’ (7.45 pm)

West Oxford Community Centre, Botley Road, Oxford

Formed March 2, 1979

“We were specific” says Andrew, one of the founders of the Friday Step group, now living out of the area. The group sat in a circle, with no separate table. The Step was read from the Big Book, and an invited speaker began the discussion though he/she was asked to begin with the words ‘The moment I stopped drinking’ (i.e. to ensure the focus was on recovery) and to speak for no more than 10 minutes.

Jo the Priest was the first Secretary; Don and Deirdre were stalwarts of those early meetings, as was Prof. John. For the first months the meeting place was the back hall of St. Fridewide Church, Botley Road, though there were always terrible problems over the key which had to be collected each time. One meeting in the church itself is remembered for its freezing temperatures; another was in the sportshall opposite, and one Christmas Eve it was held in Andrew’s house.

Andrew via Mike the Book (Autumn 1998)

This is a postscript to the above, which I thought I’d leave intact because it brings us up to a few months ago, before the group moved to its new and present location and because it was written by Mike the Book, who was a long time member of the group and who sadly died recently.

After nearly twenty-one years at Binsey Lane, the group moved to a brand new West Oxford Community Centre, directly opposite its birthplace, St. Fridewide’s Church. The change was a welcome one as the old place had got rather run down. 

Our first meeting at the ‘new’ West Oxford Community Centre was on October 13, 2000. Our format is similar to that of the early days, although we now read from the Twelve by Twelve and the speaker does not start with ‘The moment I stopped drinking.’ We still have the circle of chairs without a table and emphasis does stay mainly on recovery.

Polly M. (2001)


Friday Late Night (9.45-11 pm)

St Margaret’s Institute, Polstead Road, Oxford

Formed May 29, 1998


The meeting was the original idea of Reuben S of Faringdon. It was planned and set up by Reuben and Alida of Oxford. The thinking behind it was to give wider options of timing - there were already one early and two lunchtime meetings in Oxford and the surrounding area, in addition to the regular evening ones, but no late meeting within reasonable travelling distance. It was thought that having a late night meeting would serve several purposes:

it allowed for people with children to see them after work etc. before coming out;

it allowed for those working away from town in the week to get back and still make a meeting;

it was recognised as a particularly difficult time in the week (especially for newcomers), that was not yet covered by a meeting;

it was hoped that by leading up to midnight it would help people into the weekend with a good start.

The timing was set late enough to allow those wishing to go to the Friday Step Meeting to make it to both meetings. There was a general wish to pick up on a perceived need for something less ‘traditional’ and formal, and to make room for people who in more established settings felt constrained in talking about emotions and ‘how it is today’.

The first meeting was held on Friday May 29, 1998. Those present signed a Big Book: Reuben S, Dilys, Suzy T, Alida, Chris K, Audrey,Big John, Alan M, Peter Q, Lorelie Ann, Nigel H, Polly M, Dave L, Nina P, Robert, Dugal, Christian O, Sam S, Chris, Angela B and Paul. Dilys did the first Chair.

The meeting started with a Group Conscience which established an interim format. This was confirmed subsequently as the general format for meetings to come.

The main features were that it be: Closed, focused on living in recovery,‘Bare Bones’ - very simple format, just reading the preamble then into main chair to allow maximum sharing from the floor, open sharing from the floor - many meetings in Oxford go round the room - this was a move to balance that with an alternative. Non-smoking, but with a request for those needing to smoke to try to refrain from disrupting the meeting by going in and out candle-lit to reflect the sense of spirituality gained by the late-night mood. We closed the meeting by holding hands for the Serenity Prayer.

Officers elected for the first year were: Peter Q - GSR, Nigel H - literature secretary, Big John -Treasurer, Alida - group secretary.

Nearly a year later the group has been going strongly, with a consistent attendance of between 15 and 25 people. There are regular visitors from Cheltenham and Warwickshire, and a steady trickle of students from the USA who have come to the meeting regularly during their period in Oxford. The mood is warm and welcoming, and people appreciate the gentleness of the candlelight. Quite a number of people attend after a regular Friday evening meeting elsewhere.

A record book has been kept of all Group Conscience meetings.

(February 1999)


Saturday Lunchtime Meeting (12.30 - 1.30 open on request)

Coach House Quarry Road, Headington, Oxford, OX3 8NU

Formed July 2008

The "Oxford Weekend Recovery" meeting started on 26 July 2008 at the Coach House which is a very welcoming venue. It was initiated by Fireman Steve and the first meeting was attended by Steve, American Chris, Rob, Big Will, Alan, Owyn (deceased), Painter Lee, Alice and baby Eve and Dave W. The meeting has continued uninterrupted and has a very strong regular crowd turning up every Saturday. 

(April 2013)


Saturday (8 pm)

St Margaret’s Institute, Polstead Road , Oxford

Formed September 1989

Simon writes....

When I first came to AA I was a young 20-year-old, having found the Fellowship in an Alcoholic Unit. By this time I had lost a girl friend whom I loved so much, then a job which I had had for three years.

So, when I came to AA, though I found the members so kind and caring, and though I did identify with some of them, always at the back of my mind was the thought that "it was all right for them lot", who were so much older than me, and had had years of good drinking. The only person near my age was Annette, who was thirty years old, and she was very glad to welcome me as a younger member. We got on very well. I found it hard, though, to identify with married couples’ sobriety, as I really thought at the time: how do you meet a girl without a drink? how do you chat one up? what do I do at the weekends? how do I have sex without a drink? where do I meet a girl if it’s not in a nightclub or pub? when do you go out with your mates and converse with them without a drink? These were major worries for me, and, not to justify my drinking again (which I know was because I hadn’t accepted 100% I was an alcoholic) they didn’t help my sobriety. 

Hence another trip to the Alcoholic Unit, worse than ever.

I eventually got sober on 14 March 1988, at the age of 25, which at that time in AA seemed very young. 

I had got back with a girl friend who I first met in 1984, and she was pregnant. By this time Annette was a good couple of years sober. Then Jeremy came in, and he was young. Talking to Jeremy and Andy S (both Tuesday Lunch), I realised that they were discussing how AA could attract more younger people, as we knew by then that there were a lot of younger people in trouble with alcohol. By this time we were also getting quite a few young people visiting from the USA in the summer when they were on vacation, and I think they found it strange that there were so few young people around.

So Andy and Jeremy got in touch with St Margaret’s Institute and along with myself started a ‘Young AA’ Meeting in September 1989. The idea was to try to attract young people to share about their particular worries as young alcoholics, to talk about how we dealt with chatting up a girl/boy, having sex, going to parties, Christmas, etc.

The meeting started at 8 pm, was a Smoking Meeting, and had a chair who selected a passage from the Big Book on which to base a discussion. All Meetings were Closed (to give the new young members a feeling of protection). I was the first Secretary. The Meeting took a while to attract young people, but as word got around, we found a few started to come. We often went out for a cup of tea after the Meeting, which I felt was a help to me, and hopefully to them. Not just young people, but older and wiser members attended, who gave us young’uns a lot of support. I am not, of course, saying that every young member stayed sober, but the great thing was that the seed was sown, and the presence of a young meeting was established; and, as Secretary, the sight of a young member coming in and following the Programme was very beneficial.

Unfortunately I had to start to work on a Saturday night and attended it less. But after five years, in 1994, we had a party to celebrate, and I had the privilege to be there with Jeremy and Andy, all of us still sober.

After about seven years the Group Conscience decided to delete the word ‘Young’ from the Meeting. By this time there were far more younger people coming in (at 33, I felt old!) and it was felt they could fit in to all Meetings more easily. However, the Meeting to this day still has a good Young attendance, where members can share the problems of being young in Sobriety.

To end with: I started writing this by saying how resentful I was about being so comparatively young when I came into AA. But today I can honestly say I am so grateful I found AA and got sober at the age of 25, as it has saved my life, and given me more than I could dream of, especially seeing my daughter Samantha grow up without seeing me drunk. So I urge any member, especially at a young age, to come along and enjoy the great benefits of being sober.

Simon (February 1999)

S H I P S T O N...O N... S T O U R 

Tuesday 7.30 pm Ellen Badger Hospital, Shipston on Stour Formed June 18th, 1996 

The first meeting at Shipston Ellen Badger Hospital took place on Tuesday, June 18th 1996. It was formed with the help of Benji W. and Marion. The first secretary was Brian H, Benji was treasurer and Marion in charge of tea, coffee, etc. The first share was given by Rod of Stratford, the founder members having decided in group conscience to make the group an ‘experience, strength and hope’ meeting starting at 7.30 pm. Some weeks later it was decided by the members who considered Shipston as their home group to join SMIG. We are still the most northern group belonging to SMIG. At the time of writing we are self supporting and happy, with rent being paid by donation each month. 
Brian H. (February 1999)

T H A M E 

Wednesday (7.30 pm) 
The Barns Centre, Church Lane, Thame Formed October 2, 1977 The idea of starting a Thame Group came from Jim (deceased) who asked Father Brown from Thame to come to our Aylesbury meeting to see if he liked it. He did, and as a result the Thame Group began its meetings at the Catholic Church. Jim was the first Secretary, David P the first Treasurer and Norah gave the first Chair. David writes “The room was freezing so we had two choices: to have the wall heaters on which made a noise like jet engines and nobody could hear what was being said; or turn them off and become blocks of ice! A compromise was reached when the group bought two portable heaters and put them in the middle between the tables which were arranged in an oblong shape.” Thus the problem was solved in the Fellowship’s best traditions of ingenuity and determination! In due course the meeting moved to its present comfortable venue at the Barns Centre. 
Norah (March 1998)

U P P E R...H E Y F O R D 
early days 
In the mid- to late-1970s a Young People’s Group was started in Upper Heyford by Howard (USAF) and Yvonne (Wantage). It was held every Sunday afternoon at the air base, but foundered because of the lack of young members. The ‘older’ members were very supportive, but that rather defeated the object of the group! Around that time, Father Martin of Chalk Talk fame came from time to time to talk to those following the Drug and Alcohol Programme at the Base, and SMIG members were invited to hear him: a really inspiring experience. Prior to the Bicester Saturday meeting, there was occasionally a Saturday meeting held at the USAF Base at Upper Heyford, but it depended on whether Don, an AA member, and his wife, an Al-Anon member, were free and could get a room for the evening. This was not very satisfactory as no one knew for certain whether or not a meeting was taking place. 
Ann W. (March 1999) 

U P P E R...H E Y F O R D 

Monday (7.30 pm) Village Hall, Somerton Road, Upper Heyford, Oxon. Formed January 7, 1985 
Towards the end of 1984 a small group of Americans from Upper Heyford USAF Base proposed starting an AA meeting on base and brought their ideas to SMIG. A well-attended inaugural meeting was held on January 7, 1985 in “Room 883”. It was decided to make it a Discussion Group based on As Bill Sees It. The group went from strength to strength with a more or less equal balance of regular members from ‘on’ and ‘off’ Base. Quite soon it introduced the custom of celebrating AA birthdays with the ‘chip’ system, a practice which continues to this day. In those early years, special attention was given to making AA available throughout Christmas Day; there was also always a New Year’s Eve party. It was a great tribute to the Fellowship that during the Libyan Crisis of 1986, when no other outsiders could set foot on the Base, AA members still had access to Room 883 for their meetings (and were provided with a military escort for the purpose!) A far more serious ‘international incident’ occurred in late 1987 when Room 883 was designated a classroom and therefore a no-smoking area! It was as a result of this that, by December 1987, the Upper Heyford group had moved to its present venue in the Village Hall. A Sunday lunch-time Big Book meeting was launched in late 1986 but discontinued about two years later. Happily the Monday Group survived the closing of the Base and is thriving today as a ‘chair’ meeting. 
Sylvie N. (January 1999) 

U P P E R...H E Y F O R D 

Wednesday (7.30 pm) Village Hall, Somerton Road, Upper Heyford, Oxon. (See also Upper Heyford Monday). In the early summer of 1977 a Newcomers’ Meeting was established as an off-shoot of the Monday group but in due course became a general meeting, though always with a special welcome for newcomers. Later, Group Conscience decided against a ‘chair’ meeting, as this was the format on Mondays, and in favour of discussion (with occasional chair). This has been variously based on ‘Ask It Basket’, Big Book, and currently As Bill Sees It. In winter, meetings may be held by candlelight. Like Monday, the meeting runs a birthday chip programme. It has its own Secretary, but shares literature and refreshments with, and has the same Treasurer and GSR as, the Monday meeting. 
Alison H. (May 2001)

W A N T A G E 

Tuesday (7.45 pm) St. John Vianney RC Church Hall, Charlton Road, Wantage Formed April 25, 1967 
Bill of Bampton (see Bampton) was asked by Intergroup to find a meeting room Wantage as it was felt there should be a meeting outside Oxford. The first meeting was held on April 25th, 1967. It’s thought this was a public meeting and was chaired by one of the early European members who came over from Ireland. Founder members included Cyril S, who died a few years ago. Another public meeting was held in September 1988, though the only non-alcoholics present were David’s mother on holiday from New Zealand, and the local vicar! So much for public meetings - at that time at least! The original venue was at the top end of Mill Street in the upper room - a kind of loft - over the then Conservative Association Hall. The room was approached by steep stairs from the street. We had no separate kitchen; the sink, worktop and tea urn were along the west wall beneath a large skylight, permanently steamed up in winter. As it was just under the roof, the room itself was cold in winter and hot in summer! However, many people tottered up those stairs to fine eventual sobriety in it. In about 1976 we were asked to find another venue for our landlords had sold the premises. After a number of enquiries, Tom T and Cyril S. went to negotiate with the secretary of the Wantage Methodist Church, situated in Newbury Street, for a room in the former Methodist School behind the church. Terms were agreed for the use of a room and kitchen and, as a special concession, we were allowed to smoke in the room. Shortly after moving to Newbury Street, we started a Step meeting on the third Tuesday: Step 1 in January, and so on. In about 1993 it was decided to demolish and rebuild the old school and we were asked to fine a temporary venue until the work was completed, though meetings in future would have to be non-smoking. We were told that we were valued tenants! So we found our present premises: the superb Hall and kitchen behind the Catholic Church of St. John Vianney, and decided to remain here despite the non-smoking regulation and a high rent! We have a solid core of members ranging from 15-25+ per week, and have provided four Intergroup Chairmen. Tea and coffee are available before and after the meeting - a huge concession by the ‘Old-Timers’ who told us ‘The time for refreshments is after the meeting!’ 
Tom T (November 1997) and Barry W (February 1999)

W I T N E Y 

Tuesday (7.30 pm) (Old address: The Elms Day Centre, 9 Church Green, Witney)

Formed November 25, 1975 

Now meets at Witney Resources Centre, Moorland Road (off Welsh Way), Witney, Oxon, OX28 6LF

Sheila W writes “By the Grace of God I was able to be the founder member of the Witney Group. I first joined AA in October 1957 and have been continuously sober since March 1962. My ‘home’ group had been Bampton. My ups and downs in the beginning taught me a tremendous amount about AA and life and living, which I felt I could pass on more effectively in Witney, being more accessible. “In April 1976, soon after Witney Group was started, I took a public meeting of community and social workers (CAB, doctors, police authorities,etc.). “Our format is the same as any other ‘chaired’ group, starting with the Preamble, part of Chapter 5, and ending with the Serenity Prayer after reading of ‘the Promises’. We have never had Step meetings but on occasion, when we have had no chair person, we have had discussions on a theme, the latter chosen by the group from ideas volunteered from the floor.” The Group’s first meeting place was the Convent of the Sisters of Charity. It moved to its present venue in September 1981. Sheila W. (1980s) Witney has been my home group since the autumn of 1983, during which time there has always been a friendly welcome, making the newcomer at ease. Big Mike, one of our members at that time, has since moved to France where he started the English speaking meeting in Toulouse. Our founder member Sheila W, now 38 years sober, still regularly attends the meeting to share her considerable experience, strength and hope. Current attendance is 10-20 members, and we are to date one of the few remaining ‘smoking’ meetings! 
Rosemary B. (March 2000)