It's always a pleasure to spend time at the Warm & Toasty Club Memory Afternoons. We gather at Enoch House in Colchester to share stories and experiences, as well as to make new ones.
This time around were gathered on this sunny afternoon to talk about what people did during the holidays. Where did people go and what did they get up to?
As you can imagine, holiday camps featured heavily in peoples recollections during this holidaying heyday. One story we heard was how a whole group of people from Hackney in London travelled to a holiday camp and enjoyed the various outdoors entertainment. It seems unusual to people of the younger generation that a whole neighbourhood would just head off on holiday together.
We also heard fond memories of Jaywick, the Essex seaside town. Many people associate Jaywick as an area of savage deprivation, but when our residents remember visiting there was nothing but praise and happiness. They enjoyed going to the beautiful beach, social clubs and outside entertainment. This conversation was a catalyst for others to remember Jaywick and how much they looked forward to spending time there. This a contrast to what people have learnt through documentaries, that behind the somewhat dilapidated exterior there is a thriving sense of community and pride.
In contrast, one resident said she didn't go on holiday. During the summer break, she would spend her time looking at pretty flowers and intricate pictures in the local cemetery. Her friends thought it was strange but she liked the peace and tranquillity.
It wasn't just an afternoon of sharing memories, there was a raffle made up from kind donations of the participants. Afterwards, we had some entertainment. To start we had Mia Standen who had written a song specifically based on the memories from some of the previous afternoons. It was a sweet and introspective rendition and a great tribute to those who had gifted us with their memories. However, we didn't have just one performer but two. We were treated to an energetic rendition of many crowd-pleasing songs sung by Marie Saunders. It was brilliant to see the room come alive and join in with the songs. I've said it before, but I won't get bored of repeating myself; being able to share these memories is a privilege and its not just an act of dryly reciting memories but actively celebrating them. The Warm & Toasty Club understands the positive and life-affirming qualities that come from these gatherings and being reminded of the past. They also create new memories using young and talented artists.
I will continue to document the great work done by Johnno Casson and all the team and look forward to seeing you at the next Memory Afternoon.