The Reepham & District Day Centre has closed. A final, special lunch was served to the remaining seven luncheon club members in St Michaels’ Reepham on Wednesday 16 October, together with many of the volunteers who have worked hard over the years to keep the centre running.
The centre was registered as a charity in June 1980 to provide hot meals to elderly or handicapped persons who, through age or infirmity, were unable to prepare meals for themselves.
It operated once a week, serving Reepham and the surrounding district, including Bawdeswell, Brandiston, Cawston, Felthorpe, Foulsham, Great Witchingham, Guestwick, Lyng, Swannington, Weston Longville and Wood Dalling.
By 1999 the centre was open from 9.30 am to 3.30 pm, and was being run by Vicky Kirby, Beth and Nick Rossetti, and Brenda Morgan. (At the time the president was Bernard Matthews and the chairman was Rev Michael Paddison.)
Around 48 members were brought in by volunteers, and a bus and driver was supplied by Norfolk County Council’s Social Services, which also provided a substantial annual grant.
Over the years, the numbers dropped, either through members dying or going into residential care, and the grant and provision of transport ceased in 2011, which meant the charity was operating at a substantial annual loss.
To increase funds, a “luncheon club” was created in 2012/13, where local residents were invited to have lunch for a nominal sum. Most participants brought themselves to the centre; there was a small charge if transport was required.
Eventually, lack of funds, fewer volunteers, difficulty in recruiting cooks and only a few remaining members meant the centre was facing closure.
After David Cooper’s death, his widow Pauline Cooper continued as secretary and cook, but her health was failing and she had suffered several painful years waiting for a replacement knee.
An operation did help her for a while, but her health was never quite the same afterwards and her subsequent illness and recent death made the demise of the centre inevitable.
The three remaining longest-standing members were Ethel Dagless, Roger Pennock and Edie Holmes.
Brenda R Palmer