Coldingham Lunch Club raises a smile in village

Coldingham Lunch Club
Coldingham Lunch Club

OLD age happens to us all eventually but there’s a group of elderly people in Berwickshire who are determined not to let their advanced years stand in the way of them having a good time.

For the past year and a half, The New Inn in Coldingham has been hosting its Tuesday Lunch Club which has been a big success with its patrons who go back week after week to catch up over some harty grub in spite of some of the harsh weather that’s hit the region since it started up.

Manager of The New Inn, Andrew Penman said he felt it was important that the pub did its bit for the village and became a real meeting place for people who wouldn’t normally be able to see each other due to not having transport or being as mobile as they’d like to be.

The lunch club was the brainchild of Anne Mason who had the idea after her mother-in-law died a few years ago.

“She was the most gregarious woman I knew,” Anne explained.

“She loved nothing better than to make new friends and catch up with people for a good natter and it made me think of others in the village like her who needed somewhere to go to do the same.

“Many old people in the area spend a lot of time at home on their own and although it first it took a bit of persuasion to get a few of them to come along, within a few weeks you could see it had give them a really big boost.”

With current Lunch Club regulars ranging in age from 68 to 97, Anne said there were plenty of stories to be told, particularly from those who were involved in the Second World War.

“The club has become a real godsend for people,” she continued.

“One man came along a few weeks after his wife died. He was on his own and you could see how much he enjoyed the company.

“Unfortunately he himself died last week and I’s say we’ve lost five members since we started up.

“Most of the people who come along just want someone to talk to whether it’s about things they got up to in the past or what they’ve been watching on the telly.

“Older people tend to remember the past more than what they did last week and some of them have some fantastic stories. My husband Alan is the local GP and he put me in touch with a 92 year old lady from St Abbs who was originallyfrom South Africa.

“She’d never really mixed with people but before long she was the life and soul of the club. She often spoke of her experiences during the wear where she worked as a dietician for the army and was there when the camps were liberated.

“And then there’s our oldest member, a 97 year old lady, who was a missionary in Peru.”

Getting to see the smiles on the faces of the people who go to the New Inn every Thursday and hearing fascinating stories of their lives, Anne admitted that she gets a lot out of the club too.

“I absolutely love it, I get twinkly eyed even talking about it.

“I hope the club will be self perpetuating and will continue to grow and grow. At the moment, including the volunteer drivers, we have just over 20 people coming each week. At one point we were around the 30 mark and I’m hoping we’ll get back up there again.”

Anne paid tribute to the dedicated team of people who give up their time to take the Lunch Club’s elderly members to and from the New Inn every week and said anyone who’d like to offer their services should get in touch with her on 01890771454.

She also appealed to anyone wanting to join the club to either contact her or go along to the New Inn on Tuesdays at 12 noon.