Four friends whose combined ages almost notch up four centuries are still running a thriving day centre more than three decades after starting it up.
Cleckheaton’s Central Day Centre, in Mortimer Street, opens its doors every Wednesday to welcome in 40 to 50 members aged from 35 to 90 – the oldest being a few years younger than two of the founding members Violet Marriott, 93, who takes charge of the kitchen, and Harry Bentley, 93, who fills the entertainment spots.
Mr Bentley's wife Shirley, 90, is another of the founders along with Kath Martin, 83, who puts her organisational skills to good use from her days being a supervisor with Bradford catalogue company Grattan.
The four of them get help from a team of volunteers who turn up at the centre at Central Church weekly to offer good company, good food and a good time, said Mrs Martin, who is training up helper Ann Whitworth as a willing assistant.
“We think we make a big difference to lots of people’s lives. It’s about breaking up isolation and bringing people out into the community. People know they can walk in and be met by friendly faces. Some good friendships have been made here over the years,” said Mrs Martin.
The day centre relies on its volunteers. No one gets paid and the only regular money that comes in is a grant from Kirklees Council and the £6 a week cost to users, which includes a lift to and from their homes.
The centre reaches out to people living across Cleckheaton, out towards Heckmondwike and Hartshead Moor.
It started 34 years ago after a minister at the church mentioned to Mrs Martin there was not a single day centre at the time between Cleckheaton and Dewsbury and there was a big gap to fill.
She said: “We filled that gap and we’re still proud to be here. It just took off and continues to do so. It’s fantastic.”
Wednesdays at the centre start with tea or coffee before 10.30am, then it is social time before a chef-prepared lunch is served, followed by entertainment or a game of bingo.
“There’s never a dull moment,” said Mrs Martin.
To find out more about supporting the Central Day Centre or going along, contact Mrs Martin on (01274) 876241.