New group hosts tea parties for elderly in the Burnham Market area

A tea party held in Bunrham Overy Staithe to help old people on their own. Picture: Matthew Usher.

A tea party held in Bunrham Overy Staithe to help old people on their own. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Archant

Dainty sandwiches, toasted crumpets and gorgeous cakes are helping the elderly to get out to meet people and enjoy a social life.

A tea party held in Bunrham Overy Staithe to help old people on their own. Picture: Matthew Usher.

A tea party held in Bunrham Overy Staithe to help old people on their own. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Archant

A new group runs tea parties once a month in and around the Burnhams. Volunteers host the gatherings at their homes and help pour cuppas or dish up cakes.

Sarah Reed, one of its founders, helped run parties for the London-based charity Contact the Elderly for 30 years while she lived in the city and worked as a dementia communications consultant. Ms Reed, who now lives in Burnham Market, developed the reminisence cards which help elderly people to talk about their memories, which are now common place in care homes and day centres.

'When I moved up here, I thought this is an area that really, really needs something like this,' she said. 'There are a lot of elderly people up here and a lot of them are lonely.'

Ms Reed recruited 12 volunteers, who each host a party a year. Between six and 10 guests attend. Now she hopes to expand and get more groups off the ground in Norfolk.

A tea party held in Bunrham Overy Staithe to help old people on their own. Picture: Matthew Usher.

A tea party held in Bunrham Overy Staithe to help old people on their own. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Archant

'I'd like to go along to Hunstanton, Wells and maybe to Stiffkey and Blakeney, get it going along the coast,' she said.

'It's as much a pleasure for those who are part of it as volunteers as the people who come along and enjoy the cakes.'

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Guests at December's party, held at the home of Annie Hewitson, in Burnham Overy Staithe, enjoyed a birthday cake made by their host to celebrate the 90th birthday of member Barbara Fletcher.

'I quite enjoy it, you meet different people, it's interesting and everyone's so kind,' said Mrs Fletcher, a retited seamstress who lives in Burnham Market.

Retired farmer and D-Day veteran John Cureton, from the Burnhams, said: 'It's about meeting people who've had a different life really. There's so many ways people's lives have gone if they're 80 or 90, they've seen different things.'

Guests at the Christmas party also took home gift boxes of mince pies made by Hannah Bingley, at the Burnhams-based English Canape Company.

People can be referred for parties by word of mouth, community nurses, GP practices, other voluntary organisations and through the website www.contact-the-elderly.org.uk. Volunteers can sign up there or call Freephone 0800 716543.