Life class has many tales to tell

THEIR heads are down and they are concentrating hard. Paint brushes in hand, the next competition is just around the corner.

James Marston

THEIR heads are down and they are concentrating hard. Paint brushes in hand, the next competition is just around the corner. Today, as part of our Golden Years campaign, JAMES MARSTON speaks to members of a Woodbridge art club.

RED onions, a beach, and carrots - these are just some of the subjects coming under scrutiny after lunch at New Horizons Daycare in Woodbridge's St John's Street.

Held every Thursday afternoon, the centre's art club is busy preparing for a competition at the town's flower show.

And the contest rules state paintings should be of three vegetables or a beach scene.

Club leader Louise Gibbs said there are about eight regular members and the group has been running for the last six years.

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She said: “It's a way of keeping the members' minds active and working on hand/eye co-ordination. It's therapeutic as well.”

Louise, 30, is an artist herself so it is under her watchful eye that the group have developed their skills.

She said: “Most of the members haven't done much art before so they are learning new skills. It lasts just over an hour and I'm here to help and advise.”

For 80-year-old Joan Dormer, of the Thoroughfare, Woodbridge, art is something she had never tried before until two years ago.

As she painted a picture which included a red onion, lamb's lettuce and radicchio, Joan explained why she enjoyed her new hobby.

She said: “I've been coming along to the day care centre for about two years and I come along twice a week. They wanted people to take part and I'd never done it so I thought why not. I started painting and I got hooked. I lose myself in painting and it's a nice hobby.

“Louise is very helpful and puts a lot of time into it for us.

“Louise does the drawing and we paint the picture. We're taking part in a competition at Woodbridge Flower Show.”

At the other end of the table retired landlady Irene Tomlin, 85, of Tanyard Court, Woodbridge, is painting a beach scene drawn from a magazine.

She said: “I won the competition last year which was great. I'd never done any art before. I thought I'd try it out and I really like it. It's a lot of fun.

“We have a nice time and it's a way of meeting people and seeing people I look forward to coming along. If we're not doing a competition we can please ourselves and paint what we like. I am hoping to learn about textures next.”

Eve Bond, of Dogs Lane, Kesgrave, is preparing a picture of onion, carrot and red beet for the competition.

She said: “I've been in the art club since it began six years ago. I thought I'd like to try it and I had never done it before. Painting takes you out of yourself and I enjoy it. It has developed into a hobby. I like painting flowers and still life.”

At this year's Suffolk Show, Age Concern Suffolk undertook an impromptu survey.

The charity's volunteer co-ordinator, Teresa Booth, said: “The initiative was aimed at encouraging older people to volunteer for any organization.

“I thought that it would be interesting to carry out a survey about volunteering and so we asked visitors to select two activities they might volunteer for if they had the time.

“Results of the survey were collected on both days. It was interesting to note that “using your creative skills” was by far the most popular followed by conservation, befriending, charity shops/ helping with adult literacy and numeracy, and supervising allotment work.”

Teresa added a number of young people expressed an interest in entertaining older people.

For Louise, volunteering is simply something she gets a lot from.

She said: “I really enjoy volunteering. I enjoy seeing the people taking part enjoying themselves and hearing about their past lives. They all have tales to tell.

“The art club is not just about painting it's also a way for the older people to meet people. I enjoy seeing their creative ideas develop too.”

- If anyone is interesting in volunteering opportunities within Age Concern or with other organizations contact Teresa on 01473 288047.

- Are you a volunteer? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to

Golden Years:-

For too long the older generation has been overlooked as people suffer care homes closing, dwindling pensions, hospital wards closing, and not enough carers in the community.

Our Golden Years features aim to make sure that the older years really are special times.

We will:

- Listen to our older generation.

- Fight for dignity in old age.

- Make sure older people get the voice they need to raise the topics that matter to them.

- Crusade on issues affecting pensioners.

- Inform older people about the help available for them.

- Dig out those inspirational stories that show old age need not be the barrier to a fulfilled and active life.

- Highlight achievement

If you have a story for Golden Years, call the newsdesk on 01473 324788.

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