A WEEKLY lunch club in Blyth has marked its first anniversary with a celebration party.
Claremont Lunch Club, set up by the parish of Our Lady and St Wilfrid and north east charity, St Cuthberts Care, is run by a team of dedicated volunteers.
It offers a day out for more than 100 local men and women every month.
Many of those who attend are elderly, living alone or struggling to cope with bereavement and, without the lunch club, would have remained lonely and isolated from their community.
The first year celebrations were enjoyed by more than 30 regular guests who were entertained by The Linden Singers from Blyth before being served a three-course lunch by a team of seven volunteers.
Much-loved games of pin the tail on the donkey, pass the parcel and bingo, rounded off the afternoon perfectly.
Joining the party was parish priest Father Philip Quinn, who said he was delighted to see so many benefiting from the club.
“I would really like to thank St Cuthberts Care for the encouragement they gave us all to set up the lunch club, “ he said.
“It’s always a delight to come here and see how much everyone is enjoying it.
“Most of all, I’d like to thank our wonderful volunteers who are so generous with their time and their compassion.”
Elderly guests Jessie Hunter and Jean Masterson look forward to every Friday when they can attend the lunch club to chat with new friends, have a good laugh and enjoy a hearty meal.
“The volunteers are wonderful,” said Jessie.
“They really deserve medals for everything they do here.”
Jean agreed and said she feels the club actually helped her to get out of the house again after a fall shook her confidence and left her isolated at home.
“I was really frightened to go anywhere on my own,” said Jean.
“Then, a month or so ago, one of the volunteers I knew recommended the lunch club and I’ve been coming ever since.
“I felt comfortable here straight away and now it already feels like family.”
Volunteer, Maureen Rudd said: “We can see a number of the guests, men in particular, who are blossoming since they started coming here.
“They are making friends, enjoying conversation.”
Claremont Lunch Club is one of nine Parish and Community Enablement (PACE) projects set up as part of St Cuthberts Care’s community work.
Held every Friday between 10am and 2pm at the Claremont Centre on Claremont Terrace in Blyth, it costs just £3 per person.
Although the lunch club is full at the moment, anyone interested can add their name to the waiting list by contacting Father Quinn on (01670) 352513.