End of an era as Berwick and District OAP Association folds after more than a century

Berwick and District OAP Association once boasted hundreds of members, but numbers had dwindled to just 29.

By Amanda Bourn
Thursday, 23rd June 2022, 2:22 pm
Updated Thursday, 23rd June 2022, 2:22 pm

According to chairman Jim Smith, 84, the organisation had therefore become unsustainable.

It famously used to hold two major social events each year – a summer outing which included a high tea, and a Christmas dinner.

These continued until 2019 but since the pandemic, members have not been able to fundraise. The association used to raise cash via a range of different events, such as coffee mornings, but Covid rendered that impossible.

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An archive picture of Jim Smith, taken when he was Mayor of Berwick.

They could therefore not throw their traditional festive dinner last year and instead gave out Christmas hampers, thanks to support from Newcastle Building Society.

They hope to distribute hampers again this year, but the rest of the money in the association’s coffers will go to the Berwick Charities Cup.

Mr Smith, a former Mayor of Berwick, said: “We filled 17 buses during our annual outing in 1952, now we would struggle to fill one.

"We have had a tremendous amount of support from the Berwick community over the years, and the association acted as a lifeline to many people – it enabled them to get out of the house.

"However, it’s just not viable anymore. We had no choice but to fold.”

The Tweedmouth Old People’s Supper, another major social group for local pensioners, ended last year due to declining membership.

After its long-serving president Rae Huntly died, those remaining on the supper club committee struggled to recruit new faces so had no choice but to call it a day.