Despite efforts to attract new people as numbers declined, the Good Companions social club – West Swindon’s longest running community group – closed on 28 January.
It’s almost 37 years since a group of older Toothill residents came together in each other’s homes, when there were only 500 houses occupied in the town’s western expansion.
The group quickly moved into the hut that served as the area’s community centre, then into the first Toothill Primary School in late 1978.
90 members in the 1980s
In the 1980s the group had about 90 members with over sixty regularly turning up at weekly meetings to play cards, board games and bingo.
Most recently numbers attending have dropped away. Organiser Kath Grayhurst said it was time to call it a day. “I’m afraid the bank account was being used up on the hire fee for the community centre hall and all my efforts to attract new members had not been working.
Founder member Jean Carey, 98, who was at the first meeting of the Good Companion said it was a pity that new members were not joining. “Older people need somewhere to go; I’d like to see some kind of group taking place.”
Jo Slocombe added: “I’m sad it’s not continuing. It’s been a day out for me, coming down to the centre for a coffee and lunch in the cafe, then an afternoon in the club.”
Paul Thomas said: “I’ll be sorry not to come out on a Monday afternoon but there it is. I hope something else can get going.”
Members enjoyed a party together for their last meeting.
There are hopes that another club for older members of the Toothill community could start after Easter.
Pictured: Good Companions, together for the last time at Toothill Community Centre, after 36 years, back from left, Cath Grayhurst, Jean and Stan Mark, Joan Dale, Norma Cooper. Front, Rhoda Bolton, Betty Rawlings, Jeanne Viranyi, Nancy Stock, Brian Bampton, Jean Carey, Jo Slocombe