45th ‘birthday’ looms for Alla Luncheon Club
EVERY Tuesday lunchtime Learmount Hall in Cumber Upper reverberates to the sound of the members of Alla Luncheon Club activities.
Far from being just a home-cooked meal and a cuppa once a week, for the cost of just £3.50, the club is a social lifeline for its 36 members who come from all walks of life and from as far away as the Waterside in Londonderry - 10 miles away. Indeed, the club would love a few more men to join and bring the club up to its full capacity of 40.
The club was started in or around 1968 by the late Jean McClean and Margaret McSparron with the aim of providing older people with an opportunity to meet and interact, thus reducing the incidence of rural isolation.
Afternoons pass swiftly, with members taking part in a wide range of activities including crochet, patchwork and painting, and the more ‘manly’ activities of woodwork, and basket weaving and the like.
The only requirement to joining the club is that members have some mobility, although there is noting to stop a wheelchair user becoming a member.
“A lot of the people who come here first have not had any particular hobbies,” said secretary Helen Ross.
“In fact many people don’t have any interests before they come here and soon after joining they are making jewellery, learning to paint and making items of furniture. They discover a whole new lease of life and they are learning new things alongside other people.
“The men, particularly, seem to come out of themselves and we would love a few more men to join as the classes seem to give them renewed hope and confidence,” said Ms Ross, adding: “We have had a couple of people join us after having suffered a stroke and the club became part of their rehabilitation and you could see the benefits every week.”
Such are the skills that the members develop in the art and craft classes that they have been known to stage quite a spectacular Christmas exhibition and many members also exhibit their work at Eglinton Show and win prizes for their work.
Like other lunch clubs, Alla Luncheon Club has now lost the funding it received from the Western Health Trust, and has to find its own funding streams. Anyone who wants to make a donation in memory of loved one who used to be a member, or who would like to make a positive difference to someone’s quality of life.
Dinners at the club are served by treasurer Derek Halcrow, Helen and Lesley Gray and Sally Robinson, among others, and the current chairman of the club is Rev David Slater.
Most members in the group are over 65 and the longest serving member is Meta McSparron, who has been a faithful member for around 15 years.
In addition to the regular weekly activities and the Christmas and Eglinton displays, the club has recently introduced the Summer Ball. The first took place two years ago. The ball was introduced to remember founder member Margaret McSparron and has proved highly popular. This year the third ball will take place on June 27 at 8pm, and anyone interested in attending should contact a member of the committee.
“The club started in 1968, so next year is our 45th anniversary,” said Helen proudly.
“We have not finalised what we are doing yet, but our regular events will continue during the year, and will include our monthly tea dances. Anyone who wants to get involved or join the committee or become a member is welcome to get in touch with us.”
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Weather for Londonderry
Thursday 20 June 2013
Temperature: 12 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: South
Temperature: 12 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: North west