TN22 clubs keep busy during lockdown – interview with Roberta Smyth

Although our TN22 clubs remain closed due to Covid-19, it doesn’t mean that they haven’t been busy over the past 10 weeks.

Roberta Smyth from EngAGE was the guest of Tony Williams on Friday 17th July – listen here:

From their website EngAGE the following news story:

‘Our volunteers from both TN22 clubs remain in weekly contact with our members and carers. Amanda, the manager at the TN22 Club produces a regular hard copy newsletter, which keeps the members informed of what’s going on and also with some light relief, including puzzles, games, photos etc. One of our volunteers has been delivering a cooked lunch a couple of times a week as a couple were struggling to cook every day as they were used to going to social clubs twice a week where meals were provided. We’ve heard that members from both TN22 clubs appreciate keeping in contact with the volunteers and if anyone needs some extra support, they are on hand to help them. The volunteers are also keeping their spirits up between themselves with many amusing anecdotes being shared. One of our regular entertainers at the TN22 Plus Club is Suzanne Procter from Dementia Support East Sussex. Suzanne is very popular with members as she is so bubbly, enthusiastic and full of life and they love her coming. As the clubs are closed at the moment, not to be beaten, Suzanne and Wendy, the Manager of the club, decided to take the entertainment to the members. This was done in a safe way, with social distancing in the garden. Wendy takes up the story for us…. “A beautiful, sunny day, the hottest day of the year so far saw Suzanne and I rendezvousing before our first visit of the day. Our first port of call was happy to see us and only mildly surprised. Suzanne set up  and we soon got going with the warm-up number which was Glen Miller’s ‘In the Mood’. The 30/40 minutes or so of music went by really quickly with our audience embracing it all and grooving with rock-and-roll moves! Some neighbours leaned out of their windows and waved and listened. A stand out moment for me was seeing our couple dancing together and the real look of happiness on their faces.  Afterwards they shared that they were always dancing when they were younger.  All too soon, it was time to leave and our club members’ parting words were “If you have taken the trouble to come here, and come to my house, then you are always welcome” – a lump in the throat moment I can tell you. Don (v) (2) (002)At our next stop we found a shady spot for our club member to sit in and a semi-shady spot for Suzanne to set up. Once he got over his initial surprise at seeing us, our lively participant became fully engaged in the music and the fun, trying to move all his limbs, despite being physically limited, to Suzanne’s warm-up instructions and then going on to offer unaccompanied renditions of most of the songs that Suzanne introduced. We somehow, as always, got on to ‘Paddy McGinty’s Goat’ which was a new one for Suzanne who promised to learn it and incorporate it into a session when she next sees him. Again, the 40 minutes went by very quickly and it was time to say goodbye. Cooled and refreshed after a break for lunch, we arrived at an idyllic setting and were warmly greeted.  Sadly, we had to make diplomatic moves to avoid hugging which was hard, as the club member in question really loves his hugs and he looked a little confused initially at us not responding, but he soon picked up joining in with gusto to the music.  At one point, we were all doing the distanced conga to ‘Amarillo’ round and round the fir tree! And so to the final piece of music – You’ll Never Walk Alone (Michael Ball and Capt. Tom) – our club member gave this his absolute all and by the final crescendo chorus, there were more than a few damp eyes that beautiful sunlit afternoon.  And so we said our goodbyes, promising to return for drinks on the terrace one day soon once lock down is over… and hopefully more singing. Brian (iv) Suzanne and I both agreed it had been a really special day, well received by all three members and their wives. We definitely loved it and seeing the happiness it brought was humbling. We wish we could do it every day for everyone but will definitely do more as schedules allow over the coming weeks. Suzanne, as ever, was a star and so generous with her time, warmth and skills. “Thank you, Suzanne”.TN22′