Ali Henderson finds out more about Sil­ver Sun­day

Ali Henderson meets Christa­bel Flight, founder of Sil­ver Sun­day, an an­nual day of fun and free ac­tiv­i­ties for older peo­ple.

The People's Friend - - Contents - Visit www.sil­ver­sun­day.org.uk for more in­for­ma­tion on free ac­tiv­i­ties on or around Oc­to­ber 7 for Sil­ver Sun­day 2018.

WHEN West­min­ster coun­cil­lor Christa­bel Flight put on a tea dance for 1,000 el­derly peo­ple at the Grosvenor Ho­tel 12 years ago, she had no idea that it would be the spark that led to the evo­lu­tion of a spe­cial Sun­day fea­tur­ing thou­sands of events na­tion­wide, in­clud­ing ev­ery­thing from join­ing in a choir to a Zumba ses­sion.

“The tea dance gave such plea­sure,” Christa­bel rem­i­nisces. “Young po­lice cadets came and danced with the ladies and we had a big band. I got the whole thing spon­sored. We still do it now.”

Christa­bel’s next fo­cus was a mu­si­cal.

“I took over the Lon­don Coli­seum and we had a mu­si­cal event there for two years run­ning. I just thought, if we could do this for such a lot of peo­ple with­out too much ef­fort, why not have a day ded­i­cated to older peo­ple?”

Coun­cil­lor Flight’s pas­sion and tenac­ity shine through as she ex­plains how she over­came any pos­si­ble ob­jec­tions.

“I went to see the per­son who’s in charge of that sort of thing in the gov­ern­ment and asked if we could have a des­ig­nated day for older peo­ple. He said, ‘We’ve al­ready got a UN Grand­par­ents’ Day’.”

A “no” wasn’t on Christa­bel’s agenda.

“The trou­ble with Grand­par­ents’ Day is that, al­though ev­ery­body has had grand­par­ents at some stage, they don’t nec­es­sar­ily see them. They might have moved miles away.

“I said I’d like it to be the first Sun­day in Oc­to­ber and thought it would be so much bet­ter to call it Sil­ver Sun­day, so it takes in ev­ery­body who’s older. I got agree­ment and we set off seven years ago in West­min­ster – it’s just grown like noth­ing on earth.

“Thou­sands have come on board,” Christa­bel en­thuses. “We en­cour­age care homes to put on events, too, and they do all sorts off ex­cit­ing things. They have the fire brigade in to join in danc­ing. A llama has also put in an ap­pear­ance.

“I can’t tell you how var­ied our programme is! Mu­se­ums have got in­volved and even Buck­ing­ham Palace puts on things in the Queen’s Gallery.

“There’s a huge amount of vol­un­teers and it makes you re­alise how ab­so­lutely in­cred­i­ble and gen­er­ous peo­ple are, giv­ing freely of their time.”

Christa­bel stresses that Sil­ver Sun­day doesn’t fund events, but merely pro­vides a frame­work of sug­ges­tions that vol­un­teers can then take for­ward.

“At any Sil­ver Sun­day event you go to you see these happy, happy faces.”

Sil­ver Sun­day is clearly worth the ef­fort, in that it makes so many peo­ple smile.

“Giv­ing is so much bet­ter than get­ting,” Christa­bel adds. “It’s like be­ing a fairy – you’re just flit­ting around, bring­ing plea­sure to peo­ple. I’m very priv­i­leged to be in­volved with it. It’s a won­der­ful thing to do!” ■

Christa­bel Flight.

Sil­ver Sun­day vol­un­teers with Joanna Lum­ley, Christa­bel and Matthew Sykes, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive of the Sir Si­mon Mil­ton Foun­da­tion, which spon­sors Sil­ver Sun­day.

A Sil­ver Sun­day event.

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