Harlow group marks its 50th anniversary

Members of the Harlow Friendship Club are entertained by the U3A Singers at their Jubilee concert. (120606M5)
Members of the Harlow Friendship Club are entertained by the U3A Singers at their Jubilee concert. (120606M5)

A group catering for the over-50s in Harrogate’s Harlow area is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month with a programme of special events.

The Harlow Friendship Club, which meets at the “Green Hut” on Harlow Area, is marking the milestone with a series of events, including a concert, an outing and a lunch.

Club chairman Pat Wormald said: “It’s a thriving club and people enjoy coming here. I think it is really important to our members because most of them are elderly and some of them are a bit infirm and don’t see very well. It’s a good facility for people in the area to be able to go to for a couple of hours.

“People are very chatty and talk to each other and it’s just a very nice sort of social club.

“We have a break in the summer, and for three weeks in April, and I often meet people on the bus and they say, ‘I do miss going’. We have good quality speakers as well, because we pay them, along with entertainment and quizzes every now and again.”

Recent speakers have included Mr Pawsey, who works the night shift at York Minster, Sue Donnelly, discussing the work of Harrogate horticultural charity Horticap, and John Bevers, discussing World Heritage Sites in the north of England.

Originally the Harlow Over-60s Club, the group was formed in June 1962 by local people and ward councillors for the benefit of elderly people in the Harlow Hill area.

One founding member, 92-year-old Mary Bailey, is still active within the club. She was allowed to join in 1962 despite being in her early 40s, as her husband was involved in the running of the group – and has played a part there ever since.

In 1973 the club was responsible for building the “Green Hut”, which it maintained and rented out to other organisations. This was the start of the community centre in the Harlow Hill area.

The group changed its name to the Harlow Friendship Club in 2001 and now welcomes anyone over the age of 50. It has passed all responsibility for maintenance and hiring out the “Green Hut” to the Harlow Community Centre Association, which was formed in 2002.

The club continues to flourish, and holds meetings on Wednesday afternoons at 2.30pm, between September and June. It has a varied programme, which includes not only speakers and quizzes, but also demonstrations, trips, a Christmas Party in December, and a cream tea in June – the latter two both free of charge.

A Jubilee concert was held by the U3A Singers last week and will be followed by a trip to Crich Tramvay Village on June 13, a celebration lunch at the Crown Hotel on June 20, a cream tea on June 27 and a visit to Bluecoat Nurseries on Wednesday, July 4.

Harlow Friendship Club, which is run entirely by volunteers, has been a registered charity since 1972. “We are a charity ourselves, but when we have speakers they often ask for donations to other charities, so we support them in that way,” Mrs Wormald said.

It recently received £355 from the Waitrose Community Fund, which will go towards general running costs. “We are totally funded by people’s entry money, so the money is to carry on providing good quality speakers and entertainment,” Mrs Wormald said.

The club’s usual programme of meetings resumes on September 5. New members and visitors are welcome. For more details, ring 01423 508867.