By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead
We promised the biggest and best Ageing Well Festival last weekend – and the numbers attending and the feedback we received tells us we achieved that aim.
More than 1,750 people came through the doors at the Riviera Centre in Torquay last Saturday to enjoy a huge range of workshops, entertainment, talks, advice and fashion shows.
There was a mix of the well-tried and tested alongside things being demonstrated for the very first time – one of which was the catwalk of fashions provided from the Sainsbury’s Tu range, which went down a storm.
The music was as wide ranging as taste – from the Torbay Ukulele Band though to Sandy Sparkle singing songs from the seventies and eighties and if that didn’t float your boat then Missin’ Tackle waded in with sea shanties and songs of the sea.
And despite many people dancing throughout the day,- some with the aid of zimmer frames and walking sticks, they still found enough energy to strut their stuff energetically when Anne George hosted her dance party for the last hour.
The centre was abuzz throughout the day with mainly over 50-year-olds (with some youngsters in attendance too) letting their hair down; trying new things, learning new facts and meeting and making friends.
Organisations from the police and fire services to voluntary groups and charities manned stalls throughout the day introducing their services and giving out much-needed information.
The Friends Around the Bay, just one of the seventy-plus groups represented, enthused: “We have had an excellent response and have had people signing up throughout the day”,
Staying Put, a new service headed up by the Torbay Community Development Trust, which aims to allow people to stay in the homes that they love for longer with support, advice and a handyman service benefited from numerous referrals.
“We have had people saying that they need our help, we have booked in jobs across the Bay and the interest in our work from individuals and other groups has been amazing,” said one helper.
Lions Groups also had people not just interested in their work, but wanting to join the ranks: “It has been a great day, a terrific amount of interest as well as people wanting to join not just us but other Lions in the Bay,” said a representative of Paignton Lions.
And Age UK Torbay wellbeing coordinators were overwhelmed by the event,: “It has been great, so many people. So many very happy people, what can you say?,” said one. And they had new referrals from people who were in need of their help.
But the best of the feedback came from people who travelled to the Riviera Centre from right across Torbay.
One 73-year-old woman from Brixham said as she left, flourishing her hands with freshly painted brightly coloured nails : “I have had a lovely time. So many people – I even got my nails done!”
For Barbara also from Paignton, it was her first festival and by the end she was wishing she had been to previous ones: “The talks were great and I have picked up lots of leaflets and am looking forward to pilates and dancing.”
We have only just begun to analyse the hundreds of feedback forms that attendees completed, but it is heartening to see so many ticking the ‘exceptional’ box when asked the question ‘overall how did you rate the quality of the festival.’
We will read them all and have them professionally evaluated to allow us to learn lessons, both good and if there is any, bad to learn in time for next year’s festival which we will start planning in the next few weeks.
We are on the lookout for new volunteers to join our hardworking volunteer organising committee who deliver a first-class festival year in year out, so if you have time, energy and enthusiasm to join us then email here at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on 01803 212638.
We don’t pretend it isn’t hard work, because it is, and Saturday was for many of the hard-pressed volunteers an exhausting one, but seeing so many happy faces and not hearing a single complaint all day, makes it all worthwhile.
And returning to the feedback forms, as we will to remind us of just what was achieved, all under the theme of Love, Live, Laugh and Learn, you can’t help but smile when you read comments like ‘I thought the Ageing Well Festival was outstanding!’ and ‘keep up the good work, great day, thank you’
But the final words have to go to the person who wrote: ‘Just like Christmas Day. Wonderful.’