|The Rushden Echo and Argus, 8th April 1949, transcribed by Jim Hollis
874 Can Join this Club
In Rushden there are 478 people between the ages of 70 and 75, and 396 over 75. All 874 are eligible for membership of the “Darby and Joan” Club, christened on Friday.
The club planned to be an old folks home from home for at least one afternoon a week was a natural, spontaneous success. The “Joans” came along to the first meeting in the B.W.T.A. Hall with their shopping bags, and the “Darbys” with their pouches of baccy.
Within a few moments more than 60 of them were chatting away happily together.
There were Toc H helpers to give a friendly word of greeting at the door and offer an unobtrusive word of guidance; there were magazines and cards available, and there were daffodils on the platform.
The whole atmosphere was informal, even the opening ceremony. The old folk were told that the “Club” had been born as a result of a discussion at a Toc H meeting when the view was expressed that while much was done for the younger generation, older people were inclined to be left out.
Toc H Thanked
“We did not think that right,” said one of the workers, “so we are hoping to run meetings once a week. If you don’t want to do anything, don’t do anything. We want you to feel that you can do anything you like and there are not many places where you can do that.”
Councillor J. H. J. Paragreen (chairman of Rushden Urban Council) agreed with the sentiment when he referred to the “nice turn up” and thanked Toc H for making the move to organise the club.
He spoke of the number of old folk in Rushden, and the possibility of holding more meetings if there were more interested.
The old people were also told that an attempt had been made to get premises which would be available every afternoon, but in this case the sponsors had not been successful.
“In some towns wealthy people have given whole houses for the use of old people, but in Rushden we have not yet been successful. We are, however, going to keep it in mind, and then perhaps some kind soul will give us a whole house that we can use. Till then we will make do with second best.
“You are wondering what we have in mind. We can have a games period. You can have a cup of tea. You can come here, play games, or just sit. We are hoping that you will meet old friends here and that there will always be someone here who wants to see you.”
It was revealed that a number of people had shown interest in the club. A dry cleaning firm had stated that they would be prepared to clean any article belonging to any member of the club for 2s 6d. A person had offered to attend on Fridays to help any of the old folk fill in forms.
During the afternoon tea was served and entertainment was provided by Mrs. Wicks, Mrs. Perkins and Mrs. E. Norman.