Lorraine Campbell, Founder of Footlights
"‘Footlights’, the popular Friendship and Nostalgia Group in Tuffley, has been running since October 2017, providing a weekly opportunity for over 55’s to meet for tea, chat and old style entertainment, with musical memories! Our aim is to alleviate the loneliness that this age group can often face, and to offer some much needed social interaction in a relaxed and happy setting. Most of our ‘Footlighters’ are over 75, and three of them are over 90 years of age! An amazing generation!
Before Covid struck, we were attracting around 70 folk to our Monday gatherings at St. Barnabas Hall. During Lockdown, we remained connected with phone chats, 8 Podcasts on Youtube, and our own telephone song ‘request service’, ‘The Jolly Jukebox’!
We tentatively returned to the Hall on our 4th Birthday, in October 2021, but some of our dear ‘Footlighters’ were unable to join us, having lost their means of transport, their confidence, or their health…in some cases, sadly, all three… Folk were nervous at first of course, even though we took every precaution possible with masks, hand sanitisers and social distancing. It took a long time for us to really feel ‘comfortable’ in company again – but we are really ‘getting there’ now!
After the isolation of Lockdown, people needed us even more than ever, but we were forced to limit our numbers to about 50, because of the prevailing Covid situation… This is the reason we decided to launch ‘Friday Footlights’ at St. George’s Hall, to safely increase our capacity, and to offer a second weekly session to a potentially different community in Tuffley. We started on 29th April, 2022.
Gloucestershire Gateway Trust are kindly supporting us in this venture, by providing us with up to date technology which will make running two groups much easier, as well as giving us some ‘multi media’ options! We are extremely grateful to GGT, who have encouraged and supported ‘Footlights’ from the very beginning, five years ago.
When we restarted ‘Footlights’ back in October, we gave priority to those living alone, who perhaps didn’t have any other opportunity for social contact. We knew how vital it was after ‘Lockdown’ to get people together again. Their health and well being had often suffered as a result of the isolation created by Lockdown, and we could only do so much for them over the phone. There is no real equivalent to a relaxed and happy get together actually in person.
We know we make folk feel better with our sessions, and not just people from Tuffley, but from all over the City. We are currently attracting ‘Footlighters’ from Quedgeley, Matson, Hempsted, Hucclecote, Barnwood, Abbeydale, and Churchdown!
This tells us that there certainly aren’t enough groups for this age group available, and this is why we launched ‘Friday Footlights’, to do as much as we could in Tuffley, at least.
Before our return to the Hall, we met up on several occasions for tea and chat at the Pound Farm Old Dairy Outdoor Café and at the Robinswood Hill Centre in Reservoir Road for the Memory Event, to which many ‘Footlighters’ contributed their own recollections of the Hill.
We also arranged two exclusive screenings at The Sherborne Cinema – ‘West Side Story’ in January, and, ‘Downton Abbey’ in early June.
On Monday, 6th June, we finally opened our ‘Footlights Friendship Garden’ in Fox Elms Road, with a Platinum Jubilee Party! We also unveiled a Community Display Cabinet, in memory of our dear friend and ‘Footlighter’, local stunt legend, Mr. Dick Sheppard. His widow, Phoebe, joined us to remove the covering on the Box and we all raised a glass to him! It was a very special moment…
We later toasted Her Majesty The Queen, and had a wonderful celebration, complete with songs from the 1960’s and 1970’s, a poem courtesy of Joyce Neale, (our very own poet) and a specially made Jubilee Cake! All typical elements of a ‘Footlights’ afternoon!
So, as we move into this new Post Covid Era, our motto remains the same – ‘Long May The Footlights Shine’! – and now we can do just that, in two different venues in Tuffley, twice weekly!
All over 55’s are welcome! Please phone on (01452) 520883.
Founder, Chair and Secretary of ‘Footlights’