United by friendship and a good cuppa, Glenda Jayne and Robyn Thomsen are members of a unique club that has two requirements.
You have to be over 50 and single.
The Hunter Valley Over 50’s Singles Social Club has 60 members, all of which are looking for companionship, with many successfully finding it.
Robyn joined the club back in 2002. It’s where she met her friend Neil, after her husband passed away.
“I felt really lost and I saw an ad for the club and it was like someone was giving me a nudge, I thought that sound’s good and I’ve been there ever since,” she said.
“As soon as Neil walked through the door, I introduced him to some other people, but he looks after me, he’s very compassionate so I’ve been lucky I suppose you might say.”
Both women acknowledge it can take great courage to take the leap of faith and join the club.
“Some people are very nervous about coming forward,” Glenda said.
“They’ve cut the ad out and stuck it on the fridge and months later they ring and it’s the best thing they’ve ever done, it changes their life,” she said.
“I was scared stiff when I first walked through the door and the rest is history,” Robyn said.
The end of a relationship, a loss, or even retirement can be a massive life changing event that can lead to loneliness.
The women say both men and women join the club to help fill the void.
“They say loneliness is one of the worst things a person can have and it’s just important to have friends and someone to talk to because, once you’ve retired, you’ve lost social contact at work and you can’t be at home looking at four walls all the time,” Glenda said.
“There are people who don’t know how to go about making friends at this stage of life so we like to put the message out there.”
The group’s members come from Kurri, Cessnock, Newcastle, Maitland and Medowie.
For that reason, locations for gatherings are scattered, and can include picnics, morning teas, lunches, dinners, movie nights – even a car rally.
“Sometimes we go on a mystery bus trip, we have barbeques, for instance our August meeting is going to have lunch in the Maitland Polish Hall and then a games afternoon, where you can bring along a board game,” Glenda said.
“We want to let everyone know we are back and looking for new members.
“Everyone is very friendly, we feel like one big family, even during lockdown we started zoom – we looked like the Brady Bunch, but it was to keep the contact up for people who are living on their own.”
The best part of the club is, once you’re a member, you’re never turned away.
“You must be single, then you can get engaged and married and then you can stay a member,” Robyn said.
The club meets on the first Sunday of every month at 10am at The Polish Hall, Grant Street, Maitland.