Holy money spinners, Spice Girls and mourning a princess

Amy Wragg, Emma Chenery, Sabrina Ebanks, Lizzie Hughes and Michelle Murray  who portrayed Sporty, Ginger, Scary, Baby and Posh Spice respectively  were making waves as tribute band Touch of Spice in 1997
Amy Wragg, Emma Chenery, Sabrina Ebanks, Lizzie Hughes and Michelle Murray who portrayed Sporty, Ginger, Scary, Baby and Posh Spice respectively were making waves as tribute band Touch of Spice in 1997

As the summer of 1997 drew to a close, the news broke that Diana, Princess of Wales had been killed in a car crash in Paris.

What followed was public mourning on a scale never seen before. In Pound Hill, children aged 5-16 took part in a Dance for Diana to raise money for her memorial fund.

Ceris School of Dance performed to Elton Johns Candle in the Wind at Christchurch Church Hall

Ceris School of Dance performed to Elton Johns Candle in the Wind at Christchurch Church Hall

The youngsters, who all attended Ceri’s School of Dance, performed to Elton John’s Candle in the Wind at Christchurch Church Hall.

Choreographer June Kenvyn told the Observer at the time: “All the children were really excited and some cried when they heard the music because it is so touching.”

There was much happier news for a group of Spice Girls wannabes.

Amy Wragg, Emma Chenery, Sabrina Ebanks, Lizzie Hughes and Michelle Murray – who portrayed Sporty, Ginger, Scary, Baby and Posh Spice respectively – were making waves as tribute band Touch of Spice.

Rev Alastair Cumming, of St Johns Church, Copthorne, with some of the children who filled empty Smarties tubes with coins

Rev Alastair Cumming, of St Johns Church, Copthorne, with some of the children who filled empty Smarties tubes with coins

Under the guidance of manager Michael Ebanks, of Broadfield, the fantastic five had been approached to perform on children’s show Blue Peter and had been speaking to Asda about modelling the supermarket’s range of Spice clothes.

In 2008, when the Spice Girls stormed back into the charts, Sabrina dusted off her Scary leopard prints again. This time, the rest of the gang were: Gill Penny (Posh), Adele Croker (Sporty), Tiffany Rylands (Baby) and Sarah Belsey (Ginger).

And finally, 1997 saw a Reverend come up with a rather trusting way to quadruple his church’s funds.

Alastair Cumming, of St John’s Church, Copthorne, handed out five pound notes to his adult parishioners and empty Smarties tubes to the children.

While the little’uns filled the tubes with coins, the grown-ups used their fivers to fund bake sales and coffee mornings. Six weeks later, the Reverend, who had handed out £900 worth of fivers, saw his faith rewarded when he was presented with £3,777.

He told the Observer the idea had held a “risk element” but added: “Most people lived up to the trust put it them.”