THERE is often a full house when card players flock to the Royal Voluntary Service’s Chesham House for a game of cribbage.
When the Herald visited the community centre on South Street in Lancing, the players packed into the main hall in high spirits, four to a table, to play a few hands of their favourite card game.
The cribbage or ‘crib’ club has been run at the centre by a small group of volunteers for about three years.
Ken Preston, 76, has been volunteering at Chesham House since the club started, and said around 20 people usually turned up on a Tuesday.
“They are all just here for a friendly game,” he said.
“Win or lose, it doesn’t matter.”
Ken’s friend and fellow volunteer, Bill Longmuir, 70, said he thought it was important for older people to get out to meet their friends.
“I like everything about it,” he said.
“I love crib, I love the people that come here.
“They thoroughly enjoy themselves.
“It’s good company and they love the game.”
“The first couple of weeks are difficult, but I’m still learning and I’ve been doing it for years.”
Terry Cartwright, 76, said he enjoyed the company of the people and the brilliant atmosphere.
“For the older generation it’s a happy crowd,” he said.
“We just have a really good laugh and I look forward to it every week.”
Instructor Don Chanot, 82, started playing during the war, aged eight. He has been playing for 74 years.
“It keeps you sharp,” he said. There’s a considerable amount of skill involved, which you need if you have bad cards.”
Irene Leach, 88, used to play crib with her husband every evening until he sadly passed away.
Irene stopped playing for years until she found the Chesham House club.
“It makes you think, which is a good thing for older people,” she said.
“When you live alone, you can go hours and days without seeing anybody.
“You have to get yourself out and about.”
Ronald Booker, 73, cares for his wife full-time.
Their support worker told him he needed to get out and have a break, so two mornings a week he plays cribbage and meets up with his friends.
“We get our brains working properly,” he said.
“It helps keep people’s minds active.”
Chesham House provides a variety of other activities for older people, including musical memories, gentle exercise, a weekly lunch club, grocery bingo, reminiscence and quiz mornings with a fish-and-chip lunch.
Service manager Annick Lynn said all the groups had grown from talking to people and giving them something they had asked for, rather than just putting on an activity and expecting people to come and join in.
The crib club started from an RVS reminiscence day.
The centre was open for people to come along and take part in games, old and new, from marbles, shove ha’penny and Meccano to computer games.
Playing cards were available and several visitors showed an interest in card games and cribbage was mentioned.
“I knew a gentleman who liked to play, so I contacted him” said Annick. “He was only too pleased to register as a volunteer to teach and run a cribbage session – and the crib group was born.”
After a few sessions, more volunteers came forward to help and the group grew and grew.
“It is a fantastic group that is really friendly and welcoming,” Annick said.
“They all contribute in lots of ways.
“They really are a great team and I love the laughter that continually emanates from the room.”
Older residents are invited to share their memories at a free coffee morning to be held at Chesham House in South Street on Friday, March 21, from 10am to 1pm.