You will be known by many in Lewes as Chair of Lewes Seniors. Why did you want to take on the Chair of Lewes House of Friendship as well?
When the opportunity at the House came up, I thought it was an obvious link with my work with Lewes Seniors. We can collaborate with each other, build on our shared aims and goals and make a greater impact for our members through working together.
I know you are working now -albeit unpaid - but what did you do in your paid professional life?
I’ve been a teacher, social worker, assessor - lots of things. I taught and studied in Denmark for four years. I’ve lived in Lewes for about thirty five years and worked on setting up Lewes’s Friday Food Market. I’m rather proud of that!
We are an ageing population- this is often thought of as a negative thing but what do you think can be the positives?
There can be a lot of negative attitudes about ageing. We can be thought of as less productive, a nuisance in a queue, and taking up too much of the country’s resources. We may suffer some of the physical signs of ageing but we can be mentally sharp. We have wisdom, experience, we volunteer, we have time for friendships and have so many other strengths.
We are not irrelevant!
You obviously keep many balls in the air - how do you prioritise?
It has to be lists. Separate ones for the House, Lewes Seniors and a personal list. The housework suffers but I want to be engaged with life rather than being busy cleaning the sink. Time to get a cleaner!
If high streets aren’t welcoming for the older generation they will probably go on line instead. Do you think the town of Lewes is doing enough to keep the older population spending money in its shops?
I’ve had some input into the accessibility planning for the Phoenix development. The obvious things are wider pavements, easy wheelchair access, higher visibility of kerb drops and less pavement clutter. It has been suggested in the past - not completely seriously I think - that there should be a funicular up Station Street and buses from the station to get older people up the hill. If I had a magic wand I would probably flatten Lewes but on the other hand, doing Lewes’s hills helps to keep the fitter older citizens on the go.
More and more people over 70 are getting millions of followers on Tik Tok and Instagram. Do you think we’ll all be doing that soon?
If anyone at the House wants to get us on Tik Tok - do come forward!
We all know that older people can be stigmatised as less confident with social media and the internet. There shouldn’t be the pressure that they have to do it. They have a choice and their choice should be respected.
We may be living longer but for many it’s longer, unhealthier lives. What do you do to keep healthy?
I do have a morning routine - a bit of yoga and Pilates. I love to walk and garden and we all know it’s good if you can to keep moving rather than sitting.
According to The Campaign To End Loneliness, nearly half of older people say the television or a pet is their main form of company. What can LHOF do to combat this?
We want to be a place that gives people a purpose to leave their home. Sometimes it can be hard to change and to take up new things. It is possible to let one’s world shrink, particularly if one has suffered a loss. I know several members who have said they don’t know what they would have done without the House. That is a huge endorsement of what we do and what we offer.
Esther Ranzen said the killer question for the older generation is ‘What do you do for fun?’ Why do you think this is? What do you do for fun?
We have to try to keep a positive attitude, say yes to things and maybe leave our comfort zone from time to time to give us the opportunities to have fun.
I’ve never been to a panto before but this year I’m going with a friend to the St Mary’s panto and I’m sure there will be lots of laughs!
Do you have a favourite building or part of Lewes?
It’s Southover Grange Gardens for me. I think of it as the green heart of Lewes and a place where all ages can relax and enjoy themselves.
Have you read any of The Thursday Murder Club books? If you haven’t read them, do you have a favourite author and book?
I think I have read the odd one. Richard Osman is very clever but I can’t remember a thing about them! I love Terry Pratchett’s books and my favourite is Mort.
Do you have any wishes for the House for 2024?
I want everyone connected with the House to have a positive attitude to all those possibilities that could benefit our members!