From the Newsroom

(L-R) Organisers and participants Jenny Worrell, Annie Lydon, Daphne Steele, Leigh Robertson and Jeannie Doolan attend weekly gatherings of the Forget Me Nots, a fun-filled social group in Grafton. Image: Emma Pritchard

Forget Me Nots always remember to have fun

Emma Pritchard

 

 

Four years ago, a local group was established to offer support, social interaction, and plenty of fun, laughter and friendship, to Clarence Valley residents living with dementia.

Its popularity grew quickly, and soon it expanded to include locals affected by memory impairment and senior citizens with limited opportunities to socialise.   

Together, they sing, they dance, and they enjoy being in each other’s company.

Sometimes they forget the words and the movements, but they never forget to have a good time.

Every Tuesday at 10am, the Forget Me Nots meet at the Clarence Valley Conservatorium in Grafton and participate in a variety of mentally and physically stimulating activities followed by a delicious morning tea, and the enthusiastic promise to return the next week.

Following another jovial gathering on May 17, organiser Leigh Robertson told the Clarence Valley Independent the Forget Me Nots are much more than weekly get-together sessions for the elderly.

“It is the social aspect that is so important,” she explained.

“People who didn’t know each other before coming here are now close friends, which is wonderful.

“It’s a really lovely, happy group of people.”

Ms Robertson said upwards of 30 men and women come along each week.

Some bring their friends and relatives with them, while others bring their carers.

“It’s a great avenue of support for one another, and everyone loves joining in with the activities,” she said.

While the Forget Me Nots have received financial assistance from the Bendigo Community Bank to enable their weekly gatherings to go ahead, the group is also appreciative of the tremendous support they receive from the Clarence Valley Conservatorium, who proudly host the group as part of their community engagement program.

Daphne Steele is one of the newest members of the group along with her close friend Annie Lydon.

Speaking with the Clarence Valley Independent on May 17, she said she attends the weekly gatherings to make new friends while also enjoying the social interaction.

“It’s lovely,” she said.

“It’s wonderful to come here and enjoy being in such good company.

“I intend to be dancing here for quite a while.”

Ms Robertson also loves seeing new faces amongst the crowd, especially when they are accompanied by cheerful smiles as they engage in singing and dancing.

“There is such a strong correlation between music and brain function,” she said.

“That connection is really important.

“It doesn’t matter if you can’t sing or dance, just joining in, giving it a go and having a laugh alongside friends is what it is all about.”

Local couple Evelyn and Terry Shinn have been members of the group since it was formed in 2018.

They describe everything about the Forget Me Nots as “beautiful”.

“Sometimes I don’t feel too good, but I always feel better when I come here and when I leave,” Ms Shinn said.

“It’s a very welcoming group.

“I encourage everyone to come along, enjoy yourselves and be introduced to other people.”

The Forget Me Nots are always happy to welcome new members.

Anyone interested in joining is warmly invited to the Clarence Valley Conservatorium, located at 8 Villiers Street, Grafton, at 10am each Tuesday.

While the singing and dancing usually goes for around 90 minutes, the exhilaration and the subsequent friendships which are formed extend far beyond the final song.

 

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