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Celebrating Christmas together

Day centre members Ethel and Marion

Published on 28 November 2019 02:56 PM

Age UK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin’s day centres provide local older people with a vital social lifeline and sometimes, wonderful friendships emerge.

Marion and Ethel are the ‘Thelma and Louise’ of Shrewsbury; having struck up a firm friendship they’re taking off for Christmas! In search of the bright lights and sea air, they’re planning a winter getaway to Bournemouth.

Marion is 78, and Ethel is 85. They found they had common ground when they met at our Reabrook day centre.

Marion, who used to run pubs and guesthouses, says: ‘I’ve got some stories, I can tell you!’ She adds with a smile: ‘I’ve just had a weekend in Blackpool, so I get about.’

Ethel, who worked in the restaurant trade, recounts how the pair cooked up their great Christmas escape: ‘We were talking one day and we said “Let’s do it!” so we’re off to Bournemouth for a five-day holiday. We’re so excited! We think it’s important to make the effort.’

The family has taken the news well, but they were a little shocked at first. Ethel recalls: ‘They said, “But Mum, you always raised us to be family-focused” and it took them a while to get used to the idea, but they seem alright with it now.’

Ethel has lived in Shrewsbury for most of her life: ‘My husband and I first moved here from London 64 years ago and bought our first house for £900!’ Sadly Ethel’s husband died recently and soon afterwards she found out she had cancer of the colon. Now in remission though, she’s able to get out and about again.

‘I started coming to Reabrook after Age UK came to see me and asked if I wanted to give it a try.’

‘I thought there’d be a lot of old fogeys sitting around but it isn’t like that at all. I met Marion and we got talking and really hit it off. I think we both enjoy the banter. Visiting here gets us out and meeting different people. Plus we’re all in the same boat here, though we don’t tend to talk about illness much, there’s so much other stuff to talk about!’

‘Marion is on her own and I am too. I have family locally but it’s here that we’ve met a lot of new friends. I’ve got a lovely family, I really have, but I still have to go home to the four walls.’

Marion adds: ‘It’s just me at home and so we decided this year we’d celebrate Christmas together.’

If you would like to find out more about Age UK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin day centres call us on 01743 233 123.