If you had to compare Pam Rowland to a film, it would probably be Happy Feet. Not only is she President of Age UK Mid Mersey, but she runs a weekly tea dance in her hometown of Warrington, attracting up to 40 older couples and singles every Monday.
Why she does it
'When the guests are dancing, they’re singing a lot of the time or they’re smiling,' says Pam. In other words, it's the pleasure of knowing that everyone's enjoying themselves.
'It’s the feeling of wellbeing - it’s very satisfying and if you learn a new dance it’s great. It suddenly clicks and you know what it is and you get up with the others.'
Given that loneliness is a big problem among older people, the tea dances are a great way to bring people who live on their own together. 'We encourage people here who are maybe a bit nervous,' admits Pam. 'If they don’t know the steps to a certain dance to have a go – it gives them a confidence boost.'
The reaction of the attendees
Doug, 79, has come with his wife to the tea dance every week since Christmas: 'We come for the exercise, the sociability and the enjoyment - it’s a combination of all of those things. We’re keen gardeners but when the weather’s bad it’s good to be able to come to a place like this.'
Another regular attendee, Winifred, also loves her weekly outing: 'We just have a nice afternoon – a chat and a laugh and it’s great for the exercise. I love it!'
It may sound like a sedate step around the floor, but you couldn't be more wrong. An hour practice is followed by 2 hours of dancing from rumbas through foxtrots to waltzes.
Thankfully, there’s a mid-session interval where everyone can catch their breath and have a natter over a cup of tea and biccie.
Even though Pam is the life and soul of the party, her own dancing exploits are rather less vigorous. Over the past decade, she's had 29 operations on her foot - not that it stops her doing anything.
'She’s an amazing woman,' says Winifred. 'She’s in a lot of pain but she doesn’t let that bother her – she always gets everyone going.'
Together we can help older people make the most of later life