Farewell to Wellswood – and thanks to everyone who I’ve met in my time as community builder – Community Matters

By Marianne Parker, departing Community Builder for Wellswood

During my last week as the community builder for Wellswood, I’d like to say a huge thank you to all of the lovely people I have been lucky enough to meet, who have done incredible things for themselves and for others.

Often, I have met people who have initially felt isolated and as they have started meeting up with new people, their confidence has grown.

As they make new friends and start to have fun again, they bring other people together too.

Glyn emailed me three years ago: “What do I want?  Basically, I don’t know. I suppose I’m lonely.  Any suggestions as to getting me out and about more, and meeting people, would be greatly appreciated.”

When we met up at a coffee morning, I learned that his knees were painful and were less so whenever he lost weight.

He started doing gentle exercise classes at St Mathias’ Church using two chairs.

Then he graduated to the ‘Move it or Lose it’ class at the memorial hall that included some dance.

He gave people lifts there and started attending classes three times a week… until he needed no chairs at all!

He said the classes were ‘good for the mind as well’.

Then, at the last Torbay Carnival, Glyn joined the flashmobbers, dancing with us on Paignton Green!

He said: “Fifteen months ago, I would never have plucked up the courage to dance in front of an audience!”

During the first lockdown, ‘Move it or Lose it’ went online and was filmed on a lawn.

As soon as Glyn saw the first video he thought ‘that grass wants cutting’, so he offered to go and cut it.

“A couple of weeks later I was out in the fresh air, and I just got immersed in tidying the whole garden up!”

In May, Glyn couldn’t wait for me to organise the rota of six people for the coffee mornings so he called everyone who used to go and started organising it himself, bringing everyone together again.

This is just one story of how a chance meeting at a coffee morning can lead to many other joyful journeys. May there be many more!