Community superstar Sally has always been active in the local area, starting her own group in West Hampstead 20 years ago – W.Heart, which would fundraise so that those less well-off could go on trips. This included people of all ages and she even used to organise hostel trips where older and younger people would live together for a week – ‘It really worked, someone said ‘the wisdom of the old and the energy of the young – together they work wonderfully!’ Three weeks after joining Abbey, Sally had a mini-stroke which meant she had to spend six weeks at home. She asked Laura if she could run a bingo session as calling out the numbers would help with her rehabilitation – and bingo is now one of the most popular activities at the centre! Ever since then she’s been a real Abbey regular and a great asset to the centre.
How did you find out about Abbey Community Centre?
I went to a meeting called ‘Heroes of Kilburn’ organised by Ageing Better in Camden and I met Laura there. That must have been four years ago now. Then I came for a lunch at the centre with my granddaughter.
What is a typical week for you at the community centre?
Coffee morning, boccia, collecting raffle prizes, a bit of gardening, Re-cycle-art… always getting to have input and ideas there. It was my idea to do the mosaics in the Abbey garden for the 40th Birthday party. I also loved doing Dig It! recently with my grandson, it was a great way to spend some time together.
Wow, you’re busy! How would you describe the experience of being part of a CTC group?
Yes, I have one ‘day off’ a week, on a Wednesday. I’ve always been busy all my life so why stop now? Being part of a CTC group is great – one of the best things about getting older! My younger friends will say ‘where are you going’ and I’ll say ‘I’m off to the Abbey’ and they’ll want to come too! It’s inclusive, it’s all about seeing the good in people. People are appreciated for their gifts. We all give, we’re all volunteers. CTC is what churches should be like!
What is the best thing about Abbey Community Centre?
So much! That I feel free to suggest things… or even to criticise things that aren’t working. It’s no good to be ‘bleurgh’ about things – either appreciate it or change it! Every cloud has a silver lining.
Have you spotted anything on the Calendar of Upcoming events that takes your fancy?
I like anything intergenerational. I recently asked Laura if I could put on an event to help everyone gel across the centre. So I am putting on a Winter Warmer event with Joanna and Kilburn Good Neighbours with sandwiches, cakes and a singalong! It’s on the Wednesday 1st November and it will be Kilburn Good Neighbours and CTC, so everyone from age 50 to age 90 and beyond! And I’m also looking forward to the panto.
What one thing would you say to others about the centre?
Come and join us! We’re as nutty as you. And that we always win people round in the end even if they’re shy at first. I like helping people blossom.
How would you sum up Abbey Community Centre in three words?
Dip your feet… into the Abbey experience! With a smile.
A note from the editor: Thanks Sally for chatting to me about your experiences of the centre. If you’d like to be interviewed or have a story to share, do get in touch on email@example.com or 07805869136.
Read the full October / November newsletter here: https://communitytimecamden.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/ctc-oct-nov-2017-newsletter1.pdf