Wychwood Day Centre – never a dull moment

The Wychwood Day Centre was set up over 20 years ago to meet weekly in the Beaconsfield Hall in Shipton. For the last 17 years it was under the loving leadership of Katherine Gidman. I took over from her as Coordinator in June 2020 and have very big shoes to fill.    

As many of you know, we usually meet once a week on a Thursday. Apart from coffee/tea and cakes, and a scrumptious lunch, we have a variety of activities geared to our members’ interests and hobbies. We are always open to suggestions for activities and talks from local groups. We also welcome new volunteers, either to help during the day, to make lunches, or to drive members to the Day Centre.

For those of you who I have not met yet, my background is in nursing, district nursing and more recently palliative care in the community. I have made the Wychwoods my home since the mid-1990’s, firstly at Ascott under Wychwood and, for the last five years, in Shipton under Wychwood with my two beautiful girls who are both at Burford School.

When I started, the Day Centre had been closed since the first lockdown. After contacting all the members, we were finally able to re-open in May this year but with very small groups, and just for morning coffee and cake.  In the near future, we hope to gradually increase numbers and eventually return to a full day with lunches.

If you thought the Day Centre was reserved for older folk with limited aspirations, think again. So far, our members have enjoyed a fascinating talk about Medical Detections Dogs with Heather Shute and their ambassador, Edward, a Japanese Spitz. Then, there was a painting ceramics demonstration and workshop run by Anne Shirley, which revealed some budding artistry. Is that it? Certainly not. There is poetry reading, exercises to music, and, not to mention, ‘Strictly comes to the Wychwoods’, featuring Madeline and Andy in a whirl of colour, glamour, sequins and vibrancy.

I have been in the post for a year now and absolutely love the role. Being part of the community and getting to know the members is very satisfying.  Working with the volunteers and booking the activities is both exciting and challenging. After the members have been locked down for so long, it is fantastic to see them rekindle old friendships and pick up where they left off 18 months ago.  The positive messages and feedback from members and volunteers demonstrate how this facility is an integral part of the Wychwoods.

If you are interested in helping us in any way, please contact me on 07377 202747 or coord.wdc@gmail.com

Helen Pratley

August-September 2021