Lunch clubs offer a ‘lifeline’ in Horncastle area

Happily married for the second time round are Bertha and Roy Mills (centre), with lunch club friends Pat Ford and Ray Crick.
Happily married for the second time round are Bertha and Roy Mills (centre), with lunch club friends Pat Ford and Ray Crick.

Elderly people who lunch and laugh together thanks to an Age UK Lindsey service have spoken out about how growing older can lead to loneliness and growing isolation.

The charity runs a number of lunch clubs throughout the area.

They are supporting the 2018 winter campaign from Age UK nationally, called ‘No one should have no one to turn to’.

Over 70s who regularly attend the clubs say it offer a vital service.

And for Roy and Bertha Mills who love visiting the Horncastle lunch club, it proved to be a life-changing experience!

Roy, 83, and Bertha, 78, were married for the second time in May last year – enjoying a service with family and friends at Horncastle Registry Office.

As they enjoyed their meal at the club, they explained how they had first married 60 years ago before having children and going their separate ways after a decade together.

Roy said: “I was a bus mechanic living in Essex and remained there while Bertha moved to Dorset and we lost touch completely.

“We both remarried and had separate lives.”

That was until their daughter tracked Roy down on social media and reunited with him.

Then, when his second wife fell desperately ill and passed away, the family came together again.

That led to Bertha, who was also on her own again, and Roy re-uniting.

Roy had already moved to Lincolnshire and Bertha decided to join him.

The couple said: “We started to call each other and it went from there. We met up again and it was like we had never parted.”

As they finished their lunch they explained: “Yes, we have each other but we like to come here, this service helps a lot of people, especially those who are on their own.”

Shirley Tomlinson, 84, regularly attends the Woodhall Spa lunch club with her husband Bryan, 85.

For the couple, it is a chance to meet others, as well as enjoying a cooked meal together with friends.

Shirley said: “I’m a very sociable person and where we live is quite isolated, so this is very good.”

Fellow member, Ray Crick, 85, added: “This gives me somewhere to go.

“At home, sometimes a couple of days can go by and you realise you haven’t spoken to anyone.”

The charity provides vital support and friendship with scores of over 50s attending the lunch clubs, organised by Kirk Thomson, in Skegness, Horncastle, Fiskerton and Woodhall Spa.

Kirk explained how voluntary teams support the organisation’s staff, cooking two-course meals at a very low charge while also co-ordinating Call Connect transport to and from venues.

Run by Age UK Lindsey with support from the district’s TED project, the events regularly attract up to 40 elderly people.

This week marks the launch the charity’s new initiative in the district.

Tomorrow (Thursday) will see a Friendship and Information Drop-In café open at St Paul’s Baptist Church, in Beresford Avenue, Skegness.

Running on the first Thursday of every month from 10am until noon, the service, which is part of the St Barnabas wellbeing drop-ins, will offer a whole host of support and advice sessions for the over 50s.

Chief Executive Officer of Age UK Lindsey Andy Storer added: “Many older people across our area have no one to turn to for help and support. We need you to help us to be there for them.”

•To donate to Age UK Lindsey - or find out about all of the services on offer - visit www.ageuk.org.uk/lindsey/get-involved/donate