Tarbert’s senior citizens party the night away

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Wet and windy weather failed to dampen the spirits of Tarbert’s seniors as they gathered in the village hall for the senior citizens’ Christmas dinner.

A large number of willing volunteers had organised a sumptuous meal and decked the hall with multi-coloured fairy lights and balloons to provide a warm welcome for their guests.

The familiar venue quickly came alive with smiles, hugs and the happy chatter of friends gathering for this much-loved annual event which has been going for more than 40 years.

Elma McGougan and Jean Johnston, who had served on the original organising committee, reminisced about their experiences, explaining they ran fund-raising events and that many in the village donated money and goods so the dinner could be provided free of charge.

The event, held this year on Friday January 10, is still organised by a committee and continues to be generously supported by businesses and individuals in the village and surrounding area.

Elma said: ‘In the 1970s, the women on the committee made soup and brought it along. We did not have the new kitchen then. The hotel has always cooked the turkeys for us but cooking big pots of potatoes and vegetables was quite a job with just the gas rings. Back then, we had ice-cream and jelly for dessert.’

Jean added: ‘It was all good fun and we had loads of laughs.’

Elma continued: ‘We used to have sales to raise money for the dinner. Santa was on the stage and Jean’s children were his elves. They were only little then.

‘We modelled the clothes and the older women loved the bargains. We thought they were old, but they were probably the age we are now,’ Elma said laughing. ‘We would shout ‘Roll up, roll up’ to get them to come and see what we had on offer.’

After a warm welcome from compère Martin Jefferies and a prayer of thanks for the food, the five-course meal was expertly served by members of the organising committee and their youthful helpers.

A raffle, again free of charge, saw a large number of guests receive prizes and no-one was left disappointed as the remainder of the guests received selection boxes.

Tarbert’s seniors showed they know how to party as dancers left their seats and enthusiastically took to the floor as soon as the musical entertainment began.

A stunned Margaret Henderson was named ‘Citizen of the Year’, confessing she never expected to win the award.

For more than 20 years, Margaret has collected money to support the Tarbert Sea Food Festival and Music Festival. Later, Margaret dressed up as Mrs Brown from Mrs Brown’s Boys to entertain the audience, something for which she is well-known.

Martin Jefferies thanked everyone who had helped make the evening such a success with the happy gathering agreeing with loud applause.

By Joan Crooks