Old friends re­u­nited at launch of care hub

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THIS was the mo­ment when for­mer school friends Bill Balmer and Paul Critch­ley met for the first time in years, thanks to a new ini­tia­tive to sup­port el­derly peo­ple in the community.

The two pals were both guests at the launch of the Community Ac­tiv­ity Hub at Orm­skirk’s Civic Hall, de­signed to link car­ers, care homes and the el­derly in the community.

Bill and Paul, both 87 years old, were pupils at Christ Church Pri­mary in Aughton through­out the 1930s.

Paul now lives in Skelmers­dale and Bill is a res­i­dent at Abbey Wood Lodge care home in Orm­skirk.

The pair will be able to take ad­van­tage of the hub’s monthly meet­ings to catch up.

The Community Ac­tiv­ity Hub has been cre­ated by Athena Health­care Group and spear­headed by Group Head of Care, Gaye Clark, and Group Events Co­or­di­na­tor, Lesley Malone.

Bill’s daugh­ter, Diane Brooks, also at­tended the launch and said: “It was won­der­ful to see my dad meet up with his old friend Paul.

“I think ini­tia­tives like this that bring older peo­ple to­gether are great and I know my dad had a fab­u­lous af­ter­noon!”

The Community Ac­tiv­ity Hub launch wel­comed guests from across Lan­cashire and Mersey­side, in­clud­ing the Mayor of West Lan­cashire, Cllr Liz Sav­age, Ever­ton FC’s Community Or­gan­iser Henry Mooney and for­mer Ever­ton FC Player Pat Van Den Hauwe.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and res­i­dents from more than 10 care homes also at­tended, in­clud­ing Athena’s care homes – Park­lands Lodge and Abbey Wood Lodge.

Skelmers­dale Community Singers and Paul McCart­ney trib­ute act John Macca pro­vided en­ter­tain­ment, while lo­cal school Burscough Pri­ory Science Col­lege reached out to lend a help­ing hand, send­ing PE teacher Alex Rim­mer with six pupils from Year 9.

Gaye Clark, Group Head of Care at Athena Health­care Group, said: “We’re thrilled to have fi­nally launched our Community Ac­tiv­ity Hub.

“We had a won­der­ful af­ter­noon and it was ab­so­lutely fab­u­lous to see so many from the lo­cal community come to­gether as one as we work to help peo­ple age well, not only in Orm­skirk but across the North West!

“We’re very much look­ing for­ward to next month’s hub as we share up­com­ing ac­tiv­i­ties and day trips for ev­ery­one to get in­volved with.”

Care Man­ager of Athena’s Park­lands Lodge, Benn Mott, said: “The Community Ac­tiv­ity Hub is our chance to make a dif­fer­ence to peo­ple’s lives in the community by reach­ing out and get­ting them in­volved with all the fab­u­lous ac­tiv­i­ties and day trips that are hap­pen­ing right on their doorstep.

“I’m so proud to be part of such a fan­tas­tic ini­tia­tive and look­ing for­ward to watch­ing it grow as more peo­ple get in­volved!”

The Community Ac­tiv­ity Hub will take place once a month at the Civic Hall in Orm­skirk.

The next hub will take from on Wed­nes­day, April 19, 2 - 4pm.

To find out more about the Community Ac­tiv­ity Hub, please call Park­land’s Lodge re­cep­tion on 01704 771111.

For­mer school pals Bill Balmer, left, and Paul Critch­ley at the Community Ac­tiv­ity Hub launch Al­is­tair Adams / Abbey Pho­tog­ra­phy

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