Guests from charity Opening Doors, including a 101-year-old former model, enjoyed a vintage tea party at Harrogate’s charitable hub in Community House.
Flavours of the past, including retro-inspired cakes served on vintage china and music from the early twentieth-century, accompanied lively discussion as visitors shared their favourite memories.
Opening Doors member Jane Poulter, now 101, spoke of how she would do mannequin parades in the Royal Hall and travel to Edinburgh and Glasgow for shows as a model for the Parliament Street-based department store Louis Copé.
“We would have our hair done every Monday courtesy of Mr Copé then be asked to model clothes for upmarket customers as they came into the store,” she said.
“They were the best days of my life.”
Mrs Poulter shared pictures of her modelling clothes in the Royal Hall Hardens and brought in a pair of crocodile-skin shoes from the former Harrogate department store.
While other guests also shared their experiences, Maggie Ballinger from Circa Vintage Boutique on Regent Parade gave a talk about the renewed interest in vintage fashion and brought along clothing from the 1920s to the 1960s, including a beaded dress and bright orange minidress.
She said: “Depending on age, everyone’s view of vintage is different. It’s not just fashionistas who are into vintage. Increasingly women are discovering vintage clothing as they appreciate the good tailoring and flattering styles from the past.”
Opening Doors volunteer Sheila McIntosh, from Harrogate Dramatic Society, also brought along a selection of clothing and accessories from the society’s wardrobe, some of which, like a 1950s Christian Dior hat, have been used in productions.
Edwardian costume will also feature in the next Harrogate Dramatic Society production of When We Are Married, which will be showing at Harrogate Theatre from June 5 to 7.
The vintage tea party is just one of a programme of social events and outings organised by charity, Opening Doors. Part of the Harrogate Easier Living Project (HELP), the charity promotes independence for older people and those with disabilities and sensory impairments.
Volunteers support and accompany members to attend appointments, go shopping, and access social and leisure events.
Rachel MacKenzie, from the Opening Doors team, said: “Our service provides social contact to people who would otherwise struggle to get out and about on their own. It has been wonderful to provide our members with the opportunity to meet up and to share their memories of the past.
“We hope the vintage tea party will become an annual fixture in our programme of events.”
Opening Doors supports approximately 75 people and has a team of volunteers who enable clients to get out and about. It is just one of the services provided by the Harrogate Easier Living Project (HELP) which was launched in 2011, bringing together three services which provide support for older people and those with a disability to remain independent in their own homes.
Opening Doors, along with Help at Home and Carers Time Off, are partly funded by a Big Lottery Fund grant and are supported by an army of volunteers.
l Anyone interested in finding out more about the service, or becoming a volunteer for Opening Doors, should contact Rachel MacKenzie or Anna Woollven on 01423 813095 or firstname.lastname@example.org