THERE was cake, Prosecco, crafts and even a sing-a-long as a group for the visually impaired celebrated their first birthday last month.
The Henshaw Pennine Vale Friendship Matters Group, which meets monthly at the Sacred Heart in Uppermill, was launched in November 2016 for the visually impaired, their companions and carers.
They didn’t get off to the best start as heavy snow deterred many from coming to the first meeting but since then they have flourished into a friendly and popular group.
Celia Hall, a volunteer with Henshaws, said: “It snowed heavily the night before the first meeting so only two volunteers, two ladies from Henshaws and three ladies who turned up!
“But we have built up from there and things are going well.”
Kate Nattrass, Enablement Officer for Henshaws, added: “I grew up in Uppermill so should have known what the weather might be like but I hadn’t put any measures in place!
“But now we’re going from strength to strength.
“We offer a friendly place for people to form friendships, meet like-minded people, and find out what support is available.”
There is advice and information at the sessions on support and equipment that can be accessed, with a popular tool the bus hailers from TfGM.
The majority of the group’s members are the elderly suffering from macular degeneration, including Betty Davies, 89, who has attended since the very first meeting.
“The group is wonderful,” she said. “Christine Barrow, who helped set it up, rang to tell me about it and I’ve been coming since the first event.
“My sight had been going for a while and failed more or less over night.
“But the group has made me more confident. There are people suffering from the same thing so we can talk about it. The girls running it are doing a wonderful job.”
Betty, the volunteers, Henshaws staff and around a dozen guests gathered for their birthday event last month, and enjoyed a delicious cake baked by Celia, along with Prosecco.
Getting into festive spirit, they got creative to make Christmas decorations before singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to the group.
Henshaws Pennine Vale Friendship Matters Group meets on third Friday of each month at the Sacred Heart Parish Hall in Uppermill from 10.30am-12.30pm. All are welcome. For more information, call Kate Nattrass on 0161 770 1824 or Christine Barrow on 01457 874985.