‘I am so glad our lunch club brings such joy to people’

Louise Bisley, left, and Donna Blackledge-Jones'''Picture: Duncan Shepherd (180345-001)
Louise Bisley, left, and Donna Blackledge-Jones'''Picture: Duncan Shepherd (180345-001)
Picture: Habibur Rahman

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AFTER ten years these ladies are still the best of friends and many charities are better off for it.

Donna Blackledge-Jones and Louise Bisley set up the Ladies Lunch Club in Fareham ten years ago to help raise money for charity for which they were going to run The New York Marathon.

Donna said: ‘We thought it would be a good way to make money and after the challenge all the ladies begged us to keep it going and now here we are celebrating ten years of friendship.’

More than 65 women aged from 29 to 85 meet up four times a year for a lunch and for a special Christmas bash.

Louise said: ‘It is a chance for everyone to catch up and at Christmas we all dress up and go out.’

In celebration of 100 years of the women’s vote, all the ladies received purple flowers. Donna said: ‘We thought on our tenth anniversary it would be nice to give everyone a gift and purple was the colour of the Suffragettes and we are here to celebrate all of us women.’

The group has raised over £16,000 for local charities including The Rowans Hospice,Gosport Befriending Society and The Rainbow Centre in Fareham.

Donna said: ‘We love to do our lunch clubs for charities and over ten years we have raised quite a lot and we always do it for local charities.

‘We also recently published our own Cookery Book of which we sold hundreds of copies and that has raised quite a lot of money as well and everyone enjoyed putting in their own recipes.’

Sally Sins has been coming along to the lunches for the last five years.

The 73-year-old said: ‘I absolutely love coming along and it is a great way to catch up and meet new people.’

Friend Lorna Love added: ‘Everyone always has so much to talk about and people are laughing and smiling which is lovely.

‘It is great to have so many people get together and a good excuse to get out the house.’

Elaine Webb has been a member for nine years and enjoys having a chat with friends.

The 71-year-old said: ‘I love hearing about what everyone is getting up to and having some lovely food.’

The group have tried a variety of different restaurants.

Donna said: ‘Some of our group may not go to some types of restaurants because they may not want to go alone so this way we can push them to try new things surrounded by friends.’

Louise added: ‘I am so glad our lunch club brings such joy to people.’