Dereham figure in the spotlight: Q&A with Shonette Mooney

Dereham Meeting Point's team

Dereham Meeting Point's team. Left to right: Claire Raper (cook), Shonette Mooney (centre manager) and Louise Iverson (assistant manager). - Credit: Submitted

In our next Q&A with a Dereham local, we speak to Shonette Mooney, 58 - manager of Dereham Meeting Point, a charity established in 1986, as a place for the disabled and over 55’s to meet and socialise. The Meeting Point also hosts the Dementia Friendly Dereham - a group of volunteers working to support those affected by dementia, as well as their carers. 

How would you best describe your job or role in the community?

As a centre manager at Dereham Meeting Point, my role, along with my team, is to provide a wide range of services in a comfortable, safe and stimulating environment available for all adults of mature years and those with dementia in the Dereham community and surrounding areas.

Feature on Dereham Meeting Point. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Feature on Dereham Meeting Point. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

How long have you lived in the Dereham area?

Although I don’t live in Dereham, I have worked at Meeting Point for 13 years and due to my job spend more time in Dereham than anywhere else.

What would you do if you were mayor of Dereham for a day?

I would have a weekend of free entertainment from all the local artists and musicians we have in Dereham.

St Nicholas Church in Dereham, where the stone was discovered

Ms Mooney said St Nicholas Church was "a beautiful landmark". - Credit: Noah Vickers

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What is your favourite landmark in the Dereham area?

Saint Nicholas Church is a beautiful landmark.

What is your favourite pub in the Dereham area?

I don’t really frequent pubs in Dereham as a rule, though I have been known to pop into the Romany Rye on the odd Friday after work with colleagues. 

Shonette Mooney

Shonette Mooney has worked at Dereham Meeting Point for 13 years. - Credit: Submitted

Which shops do you rely on in the Dereham area?

Like everywhere else, the High Street has changed - particularly due to Covid, most people shop online, but not everyone can. I think local shops selling local produce like the butchers and grocers at the Tuesday market really need the support of the community - I tend to use them.

What is your favourite place to go and eat in the Dereham area?

I used to like the George Hotel before it closed. I tend to use Spice Fusion and am looking forward to going to Taste of Istanbul when I return to work. 

The Meeting Point in Dereham was burgled at the weekend. Picture: Ian Burt

The Meeting Point in Dereham was burgled at the weekend. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

What is a perfect day in the Dereham area for you?

My perfect day is when we have community events in the centre and other venues such as the Dereham Carnival or the Christmas lights switch-on. Meeting the rest of the community on the stalls, with most of them being for good causes and run by volunteers, makes me happy to know that so many people really do care about others.

Which places in the Dereham area would you recommend to visitors?

The first place would have to be Gressenhall Museum [of Rural Life], followed by the Dereham Windmill and of course the Mid-Norfolk Railway. We also have some lovely walks around the Dereham area. 

Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, Museum of Norfolk Life. Picture: Ian Burt

Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, Museum of Norfolk Life. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

Who is your hero, associated with the Dereham area?

I think I would have to say heroes, plural, and they would have to be the people who have worked in the care industry in Dereham. especially over the past year and particularly those who have worked in the care homes while the rest of us were in lockdown. They work so hard for so little reward. 

What do you most love about the Dereham area?

That’s very simple: it’s the people and the Dereham community. A couple of years ago, the Meeting Point was broken into and all the raffle prizes amongst other things were stolen. As soon as the community came to hear of this, we were overwhelmed with donations. I genuinely can’t wait to get back to see all our members and volunteers plus the rest of the Dereham community as soon as we can.

Dereham Meeting Point intends to reopen its centre on St Withburga Lane in July. If you'd like to join the Meeting Point, you can call 01362 698866 or email