THE longest-standing member of a social club is its organiser, secretary and treasurer but still finds time to provide a friendly ear at any moment.
Cecily Small, 91, of Winterbourne Road, was at the very first meeting of the Summersdale Afternoon Club in Summersdale, Chichester, 34 years ago. AS the only original member left she took over as organiser in 1999.
The club is aimed at older people who might be socially isolated or not able-bodied.
Mrs Small said: “People look forward to it all week. Most of us live alone and some of us have no family. The club is for friendship and it’s proved itself at that.”
Summersdale Afternoon Club meets every Tuesday from 2pm to 4pm for socialising and activities at St Michael's Hall in Summersdale Road.
Mrs Small said: “We used to do all sorts of things – anything but hang gliding, but these days we are quite content to play scrabble and whist. Scrabble is a particular favourite.
“The games are not competitive, they are for mental stimulation.”
Mrs Small said she thought of the club as a family and each member receives a bunch of flowers and a card on their birthday.
She added: “About 200 members have passed through our doors, though membership now stands at about 20. Not everyone can always make it along, but they are really dedicated when they can.
She said: “I have a nursing background so I have a listening ear. And not just on a Tuesday – members can ring me any time they need to talk. It’s a complete job to me, not just for one day a week.”
Summersdale Afternoon Club has been funded a number of times by the Sussex Community Foundation, a charity which raises funds from Sussex donors and gives grants to smaller charities and community groups across Sussex.
Mrs Small said: “The Sussex Community Foundation are extremely nice people – I have met some of them when they came to the club. They have been very generous.”
The club is looking for new members – for enquiries call Cecily Small on 01243 528350.
She added: “Each member is valued for being themselves and the unique contribution they make to the club.”