D&S column: great turnout for my first Older Persons' Fair

I was delighted with the response to my Older Persons’ Fair held last Wednesday in Northallerton.

Shortly after opening at 10am the Golden Lion’s Yorkshire Suite was packed with people browsing the stalls and talking to the representatives from the large range of organisations who had kindly agreed to attend.

I’ll confess to a degree of anxiety about how this first fair would be received but the numbers that came – in excess of 200 we estimate - would seem to suggest that that it met a real need.

Certainly, the attendees I spoke to said it was good to have all the service organisations and charities under one roof. If one could not help with an interest or issue , it was quite often the case that another one present could.

There was a huge range of information, advice and opportunities for leisure activities available. From the Department of Work and Pensions team at the Northallerton Job Centre offering advice about pensions and benefits, to the town’s two Rotary Clubs which do so much in our community and facilitate tremendous fellowship.

Talking of fellowship, that was an important social aspect of the event too. Many friends met up over tea, coffee and biscuits.

For five people who came to the fair, their attendance could turn out to be life-saving! Pharmacist Tommy Ling was there from the Day Lewis pharmacy attached to Northallerton’s Mowbray House Surgery.

Tommy was demonstrating the range of medical services now available at community pharmacies like his - such as flu vaccinations and free blood pressure checks. Around 40 people agreed to have blood pressure checks and five had hypertension – raised pressure levels – and were urged to make an appointment to see their GP without delay.

The Ramblers had lots of information about the amazing number of guided walks available in the area and the range of activities offered by Northallerton U3A (University of the Third Age) was equally wide-ranging and stimulating.

I was fascinated by the Sporting Memories stall. They had some great pictures of England’s famous 1966 World Cup win. It was really interesting to hear how the Sporting Memories network – first established here in North Yorkshire – is spreading across the country and helping to unite the generations through sporting reminiscence.

During the morning I also spent time on the High Street outside the hotel encouraging older persons to visit the fair. This involved some tricky judgement calls as I didn’t want to offend anyone who might have felt they didn’t fall into that age category just yet. No one told me not to be cheeky so I think I managed it!

I need to thank the market traders who provided very helpful advice and practical assistance to secure my gazebo and stop it taking off down the High Street in the blustery winds.

Thanks are also due to the team at the Golden Lion who were so helpful in setting up the Yorkshire Suite for the fair and making sure the flow of tea and coffee was constant. With all the talking going on, it became thirsty work!

Lastly, I must say how grateful I am to all the 35 organisations whose staff or volunteers gave up their morning to attend and provide such a useful service to our older generation.

So many people have said it was a thoroughly worthwhile event and I will be looking to repeat it elsewhere in the constituency in the future.