We kicked off the anniversary event with a visit from three Halifax RLFC players, members of the FC Halifax Town team and Chris Mitchell from Calderdale Community Trust who came equipped with a National Lottery-funded ‘bike blender’. Many group participants got involved and there was much laughter mounting and dismounting the bike to pedal and power the blender to fashion our own uniquely flavoured smoothies. It was incredible to watch the muscle memory come back to participants once safely mounted on the bike, to see their eyes light up and to listen to stories of them cycling in their fitter days. The participant who won the fastest pedalling award is 94, who put some of our Touchline volunteers to shame with his speed.
Local musician, Diamond Dac, then entertained us with a set list of American folk roots and country music. Armed with three guitars and adept finger picking and bluesy slides, his energy and foot-tapping tunes engaged us all in a sing along, with some of us even joining in with homemade percussion instruments. The power of music to unite, delight and evoke memory is such a forceful tool to engage the memory and senses and we were delighted to see memories jogged and smiles on faces as participants accessed the music at different capacities.
During the interval, café coordinator Natalie Rees, shared a few words about the café’s early beginnings and its growth, and had the wonderful opportunity to thank the various supporters of Touchline, all represented on the day, including our local Alzheimer’s Society (Halifax), Halifax RLFC and FC Halifax Town. We are very grateful for the ongoing collaboration with Alzheimer’s Society as they refer people to our group and as we support them in local events such as their upcoming road show and Dementia Awareness Week.
Participants were thrilled to be surprised with tickets for home games for everyone in attendance on the day. This was a huge delight as most participants, men living with a dementia in particular, come to our venue because of their interest and support of these clubs and of our café’s specific sporting theme. A huge thanks to FC Halifax Town and Halifax RLFC for their generous donations!
Over the past twelve monthly sessions, we have seen the café flourish, welcoming over 40 unique participants to our group that is now growing a strong identity. We are very proud of what we have achieved and are now looking at ways in which we can expand this model further to provide a service even more people can benefit from. Thank you and well done to all of our community volunteers and supporters of Touchline Tea Stop, and of course, to our participants for a year of laughter and smiles.