Heart of the community

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A FEW weeks ago I was invited to the Southowram Neighbourhood Scheme which was celebrating its first six months, an event held at the Southowram community centre on Law Lane.

That visit was my first time in the community centre for almost 30 years; on that occasion all those years ago the reception was far from being friendly. I was invited to attend a meeting of local residents who wanted to start a new Neighbourhood Watch Scheme. Someone welcomed me and pointed to a chair and desk in the opposite corner of the room. Looking back I had walked into an ambush.

The local meeting was nothing to do with starting a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme but a number of local crime matters were causing serious problems throughout the village and I suddenly found myself being a ‘police spokesman’.

Well after an hour of hostile questioning, and me being honest with the people present. I managed to get out of the room intact both physically and with a degree of satisfaction from the crowd with my answers. My visit to the six month celebration was certainly a pleasant change compared to that visit 30 years earlier.

I am now halfway through a mobile phone class for older users at Southowram which is just one of the activities the new scheme is providing. I have taught classes in classrooms, in the open air and on a stage but this is the first time I have held classes in a public house. We are very grateful to the owners of the Cock and Bottle in Common Lane as their pool room is our temporary classroom on Thursday tea times.

Looking at this week’s featured photograph it is another happy get together at Southowram back in 1983.

Many of our local communities started local groups and clubs back in the 1950s. With clubs being started in Hipperholme, with the Good Companions, Hove Edge 65 Club, and Golden Link at Rastrick, these clubs were soon all boasting memberships into three figures. Norwood Green soon followed and in 1955 Waring Green Forget-Me-Not Club, the Silver Lining Club at Bailiff Bridge and another club at Lane Head and of course Southowram with the Sunshine Club and Old Folks Treat joined this growing number.

These clubs served a very useful purpose and gave many older people particularly those who lived alone somewhere to go and meet friends, share conversation, and of course go on trips and be entertained by a weekly speaker.

Sadly most of these groups are no longer with us but those who went to these clubs will all have many happy memories.