Wartime tunes rouse older residents

Ninety year olds were dancing in the aisles to wartime tunes at a special event for older residents in Westminster, aimed at reducing social isolation.

Residents aged between 60 and 100 years living in five of Westminster City Council’s community supportive housing schemes were invited to the event organised by their housing managers last Thursday (1 May 2014).

The event was held on the Lisson Green estate, managed by CityWest Homes, and included a lunch buffet and exclusive entertainment by singers Mickie Driver and Annie Riley from the Variety Collective, who specialise in wartime songs. They sang favourites such as ‘Baby face’ and ‘Me and My Shadow’ with many in the audience singing, clapping and dancing along.

The most rousing moment came when a recording of Winston Churchill’s famous “We will never surrender” speech followed by Dame Vera Lynn’s “There’ll always be an England” was played.

Amongst the crowd was Matilda ‘Tilly’ Whittlesey, aged 100, who says she hopes to “be around to celebrate my 101 birthday in September”.

Born just before the outbreak of World War One, Tilly recalls spending much of World War Two as a young fire watcher on the roof of Jordans (now Alfie’s Market) in Church Street.

About her time as a fire watcher, she said, “It was very hard up there, with all the incendiary bombs. I have some very sad memories. War is no good to anyone really. It causes a lot of heartbreak.”

Enjoying themselves were friends Maud McAllister from St John’s Wood and Shelley Wilson, Norma Cohen and Jean Lloyd from Lisson Green.

Norma Cohen, in her 70s, said: “All the scheme managers are fantastic. They take such good care of us oldies.”

Margaret Irvine, community supportive housing manager for Glarus Court in Church Street who helped organise the event, said: “We want our residents to get out and socialise. It’s important because a lot of them are isolated and some of our housing schemes do not have the facilities or funding to put on events like this.

“We always get a great response so we will aim to put on two events per year. We want all older people to come along and take advantage of it.”

You can see more pictures from this event by going to our Flikr page here.

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