When the Eckingtonian Social Group was formed through our Generation Games initiative a year ago it set in motion a chain of events which would bring local people together and enable them to realise their potential.
The new-found friends are now working together to enable the group to be self-sustaining. David King, 77, from Renishaw joined the group when he was feeling isolated after losing his wife. Connecting with others has reignited his sense of purpose and he’s now taking on the role of chairman.
David tells his story:
“I lost my wife three years ago and spent a lot of time just hanging around the house. I live in a large house so being on my own there was getting quite isolating. After two years I decided I needed to start living again and needed an opportunity to socialise with others.
“When I saw a flyer for Generation Games I got in touch with Debbie and she told me about a Boccia group which was starting in Eckington. There wasn’t anything else like this in the area so I thought I’d give it a go.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect the first time I went but I kept going back and felt really accepted and welcomed by the group. I think this is because it’s a mixed group of males and females, all around the same age group, in the same situation and with similar interests.”
The value of the group
“The physical activity side of it is a new-found activity for all of us. It’s good because it’s an hour and a half of moving about, it’s not too strenuous and it makes you feel a bit more supple. I’ve got two replacement knees so it’s a bit like physical therapy for me too.
“But I think the key part of the group is the coffee break in the middle which has gradually got longer and longer. This is what people value the most – to sit and have a chat, a cup of tea and a biscuit.”
“People have made really good friendships. At Christmas we all went out for lunch and some people have been to my house for a coffee morning. I’ve also given an open invitation to anyone who wants to come and see the museum I’ve got at my house. I live in the old police house – I used to work in the police – and have collections of military and police uniforms as well as a model car collection.
“Coming to this group has given me a purpose and a structure to my week. One day I saw a lady from the group standing at the bus stop. She walks with a stick and it’s a steep incline up to where the group meets so I started picking her up on my way. Now we’ve got extra time to chat in the car which is really nice.”
Gaining a sense of purpose
“Because Generation Games is coming to an end we had a decision to make. If we wanted the group to carry on we’d have to organise ourselves. Gradually different people agreed to take on different roles. Then we needed a chairman.
“I’d previously been involved in a group campaigning against the impact of HS2 in the area so knew a bit about that sort of thing and was happy to take on this role. When I was a part of that group we used to meet at my house and that gave me a purpose. But after we’d achieved our objective I had a void left and I thought it would be nice to have this purpose back again.
“We’re now in the process of getting everything sorted, planning bank accounts, putting in applications for grants and such like which Debbie is helping us with.
“Without Generation Games we wouldn’t have all got together and we wouldn’t be doing this now. It’s given us the kick start we needed to see how this sort of group could work. Everyone wants to keep it going and as long as that continues I think we’ll keep going for a long time to come.
“I needed that stimulation and I’m really grateful to Debbie for telling me about the group in the first place.”