Fareham club provides a vital lifeline for elderly people

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FOR many of its members it’s a vital lifeline – a chance to get out of the house, have a decent meal and time to catch up with friends.

Self-funded group the Fareham Town Old Peoples’ Welfare Committee has been going for more than 50 years.

(l-r) Pat Richards (99), Mayoress Carole Steadman, Mayor Dennis Steadman, Sharon Noble, Winnie Cooper (101) and Carol Cheesmore. ''Mayor and Mayoress of  Fareham present a hamper (donated by Asda) to Fareham Town Old People's Welfare Committee at Holy Trinity Parish Centre, West Street, Fareham. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (13833-768)

(l-r) Pat Richards (99), Mayoress Carole Steadman, Mayor Dennis Steadman, Sharon Noble, Winnie Cooper (101) and Carol Cheesmore. ''Mayor and Mayoress of Fareham present a hamper (donated by Asda) to Fareham Town Old People's Welfare Committee at Holy Trinity Parish Centre, West Street, Fareham. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (13833-768)

Its oldest member is 101 and it aims to end the isolation that old age can sometimes bring.

The club meets on a Monday at Holy Trinity Parish Centre, West Street, Fareham, for a home-cooked lunch. It is so popular, there is a waiting list to join.

Organiser Carol Cheesmore said: ‘For some of our members it can mean that it is the only time they get out during the week. It can often be the only time they have a conversation with anybody else and they really enjoy meeting with other people and being able to talk about their interests.’

The group has around 50 members and is run by around 40 volunteers.

The volunteers do everything from cooking the meal to the entertaining to driving the people there.

Winnie Cooper, 101, from Titchfield, has been going to the group for around 20 years.

She said: ‘The people here are very nice and so helpful. They are lovely and kind. It’s nice to have some help.’

Yvonne Davey, 90, from Fareham, said: ‘We all look forward to our Mondays. It is somewhere lovely to come.

‘The volunteers are very kind and we have a really nice time. We would be lost without our Monday club.’

Andrew Tait is the oldest male member of the club at 95.

He said: ‘The whole thing is excellent.’

This week, the group was visited by Sharon Noble, from Asda, who was donating a hamper for the members to enjoy.

Mayor of Fareham Dennis Steadman and Mayoress Carole Steadman attended a lunch at the club last year and they had been so impressed by the hard work of the volunteers, they nominated them for the hamper.

When Asda heard about the club, it agreed to let staff member Sharon, from the Fareham store, volunteer every week on company time.

Sharon said: ‘I’m really looking forward to it. It’s lovely to be able to support a volunteer group like this.’

Mrs Cheesmore thanked Asda for the hamper and for the extra helping hand. She said: ‘There are many items in the hamper which will be used for several weeks to come. It’s a great contribution.’

For more information call in at the club between 11am and 2pm on a Monday (closed bank holidays).