A thread to link to lonely in Great Yarmouth

Golden Threads club, Yarmouth is a club that has been set-up for people who's partner has either die

Golden Threads club, Yarmouth is a club that has been set-up for people who's partner has either died or had to go into care. Gloria Gee. - Credit: Nick Butcher

It should be a time of Christmas cheer and spending time with your nearest and dearest. But for many who are alone at Christmas, the holiday can be heartbreaking, especially if the one you love has passed away or gone into care.

Golden Threads club, Yarmouth is a club that has been set-up for people who's partner has either die

Golden Threads club, Yarmouth is a club that has been set-up for people who's partner has either died or had to go into care. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Trying to help those feeling alone are Gloria Gee and daughter Angie Taverner, who were spurred into setting up a venture for lonely Great Yarmouth residents following the death of Mrs Gee's husband Wally, 79, in January 2014.

His death hit Mrs Gee particularly hard as the loving couple had hardly ever been apart in their 58 years together, and she became very lonely on the days when she was not with family.

'You don't know what loneliness is until you experience this,' said Mrs Gee. 'You feel cut off from the outside world, all your old friends are couples, you feel like you're on the outside looking in.'

This Christmas will be her second without her husband, and the family always used to have big family celebrations. Mrs Gee admitted the festive season was very difficult.

Golden Threads club, Yarmouth is a club that has been set-up for people who's partner has either die

Golden Threads club, Yarmouth is a club that has been set-up for people who's partner has either died or had to go into care. - Credit: Nick Butcher

'But then it's always difficult,' she said. 'All year round.'

Saddened by her mum's situation, Mrs Taverner suggested starting a group where Mrs Gee, in her 70s, could meet up with fellow widows and widowers in a bid to forge new friendships.

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And after a few months of deliberation the grandmother-of-four, from Caister, agreed, and the first Golden Threads meeting took place in November 2014. Now, just over a year on, the group is going strong and had a Christmas party at St George's Theatre Pavilion cafe on December 16.

'At first, we didn't really expect anyone to come,' said Mrs Gee. 'But now we have about 40 members.'

Golden Threads club, Yarmouth is a club that has been set-up for people who's partner has either die

Golden Threads club, Yarmouth is a club that has been set-up for people who's partner has either died or had to go into care. Jrean Benjafield, Daphne Bullen, Gloria Gee, Jane Whiley and Jackie Sullivan. - Credit: Nick Butcher

The meetings are fortnightly, but she stresses that it does not matter if people miss two or three months, or more, they are always welcome to come back.

Member Jackie Sullivan's husband Tony died this year, but before that he was in care for three years. And the club is open to those whose partner may be in long-term care too.

'It's a great help, I'm so glad Gloria started the club. I was coming before Tony died and I'm still here now,' Mrs Sullivan said. 'It's so nice to meet people who are all in the same boat, they understand.'

'It feels like losing a limb when you lose a partner,' said Noel Thompson, 78. Mr Thompson lost his wife Audrey in 1993, and then his partner Doreen in 2013, so he knows more than most the grief experienced.

'At the beginning you think your life has ended too, and every time you have to make a new set of friends. I've been coming since the beginning and it's good because it's just socialising, chatting, it's no pressure.'

Now, Mrs Gee would like to see more versions of Golden Threads set up by other people around the county, but more locally she wants to reach out to GP surgeries and funeral parlours to get the message out about the Great Yarmouth group.

The next Golden Threads meeting will be on Wednesday, January 6 at St George's Theatre Pavilion cafe, King Street, from 2pm-4pm. All new and old members are welcome.