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Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Christmas tradition is always a real treat

LOOK at them – Prudhoe’s over 60s, happy as Larry at the Aged People’s Treat.

And why shouldn’t they be? Aside from the usual lunch, entertainment and catching up with old friends, they were this year offered a welcome drink and warming broth to counteract the cold weather.

Of all those gathered on Tuesday, however, there were two ladies who looked particularly at home – Maureen Goodfellow and Joan Younger, who this year retired as organisers of the Treat after more than two decades of service.

“It feels great,” said Joan when asked what it was like to enjoy the event as a guest.

“It’s nice to be relaxing this time,” said Maureen – understandably.

Of course, there’s been little room for relaxation for the nine-strong committee that has taken over where Joan and Maureen left off.

Starting off with a budget of around £9,000, they raised further funds for the event of over £7,600 from the most eclectic of sources.

A clairvoyant night, for example, generated £867, while Prudhoe’s under 11s football team brought in £228 through a supermarket bag pack.

Tissue manufacturer SCA, apart from providing the usual gift bags of toilet rolls, gave £1,500, while Asda gave £1,400.

Indeed, a huge number of businesses and organisations in the town came together this year to help with everything from funds to practical assistance on the day.

“The Treat is a tradition now – it’s been going for over 100 years – and people don’t want it to disappear,” said Lynn Ivison, chairman of the new committee.

“There’s been exceptional support from around the town, and, of course, we have to thank Prudhoe Social Club for giving us the run of the place.

“It’s taken a lot of precision planning, but, working as a team it hasn’t felt like that, as there’s been a lot of camaraderie.”

And that, of course, is the essence of the Treat, which, established in 1906, is still open to every resident of Prudhoe aged over 60.

On Tuesday, organisers catered for those in Castle Dene and Halfway, while Wednesday was for residents of central Prudhoe and Oaklands, and Thursday for those in West Wylam.

Councillors, community leaders and police were also invited to the event, which included a jaw-droppingly large raffle and entertainment from the band, Looking Back.

Tuesday’s event was opened by television presenter Kenny Toal, who also took the opportunity to interview those gathered for a story on fuel prices.

If he was looking for furious pensioners, however, he came to the wrong place.

“They have a different attitude,” he said. “This generation just gets on with things.”

And as to the Treat itself: “It’s such a cracking event, and, with me living in Prudhoe myself, it’s good to be here.

“It all seems fantastic; they’ve done a good job.”

Inclined to agree with him was Carole Thurkettle, who attended with her neighbour, Enid Wallace.

Originally from South Shields, Carole moved to Prudhoe ten years ago and has been attending the Treat since hitting the appropriate age three years after that.

“Everyone is always very friendly,” she said.

“There’s a lot of community spirit in Prudhoe, so I’ve never felt like an outsider.

“This event is for everybody to get together and every year they always sing a wonderful song about friendship, which is unique to this place.”

The new organisers, however, have no intention of resting on their laurels and, even this week, were thinking carefully about the approach they will take next year.

Secretary Wilton Holmes said: “We’re going to ask the people who came if there was anything they haven’t enjoyed and we will listen to them – it’s their day, not ours.

“But I think people have been so interested in it.

“If this is a success, then it will be chock-a-block next year once word gets around.

“For the last two years, we’ve been thinking of knocking it down to two days, but now there’s a large number of people from places like Ovingham asking if they can come.”

Prudhoe’s town mayor Coun. Jennifer McGee, who attended the event on Wednesday, thanked the new committee for their work.

“The Treat has been going for over 100 years and long may it continue,” she said.

“It’s always a very enjoyable event.”


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