Victoria Park Community Centre

It is not very often that I meet a local resident over the age of a hundred, never mind two in the same room. But that is exactly what I did at a recent visit to Victoria Park Community Centre. I haven’t had as much fun in a long time, and I met so many wonderful people who were all so welcoming.

I met with Eva Tyrell who is a magnificent 104 years of age – and is such great fun. On three nights a week Eva joins her friends for Bingo at the community centre. Before the numbers were called I had a great chat about a hundred of years of history in Cadoxton and Barry. It amazed me how fondly remembered Sir Raymond Gower is, and Eva remembered when he first got elected in 1951 like it was yesterday.

There must be something in the water in this part of Barry, as I also met a very spritely Lil Collier who is now 102. Both Lil and Eva are such an inspiration. We had great fun at the Bingo, and if visiting the wonderful Victoria Park Community Centre three times a week is the key to a long life then I must visit more.

I must pay tribute to the organisers at the centre, Anthea and Christine, the dedicated volunteers that arrange these events for the community. From taking bookings to making hot dogs – it is the volunteers that make community gatherings like this so wonderful. It was a privilege to meet so many wonderful people, with Irene introducing me to the members and several generations of the same family.

I cannot overemphasise how much I enjoyed the visit, it was such a joy to meet so many people of all ages. I really believe that regular events organised so well are what makes a community. You cannot define it, but when I walked into the centre I could sense that the work undertaken by the volunteers was really appreciated. In a time of smartphones and computer screens, there is nothing like a group of friends getting together two or three times a week to build lifelong friendships. Thank you to everyone that I met at the centre for giving me such a warm welcome, and in particular to the two centenarians Eva and Lil who gave me so much of their time.