Senior Forum – Bob’s Blog 13

A belated Happy New Year!! I had a bit of a break over the Christmas holidays plus a bit of a cold – bunged up nose and feeling a bit off colour!  There’s lots of it around!   I did practice what I preach though – followed all the guidance on how best to look after yourself and gradually improved.   The ‘recipe’ below did  work….Bob's Blog Senior Forum

  • Rest
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Have at least one hot meal a day to keep your energy levels up
  • And most important, DON’T WAIT until it gets bad – get advice from your pharmacist, give them a ring if you can’t get out, and follow their advice.


You can always ask your pharmacist for advice on pain relief and about which medicines you need to keep a stock of (If your pharmacy is closed, ring 111 for advice.)   Apparently last year in just 3 months  3,300 people  visited A&E at Macc hospital but needed no treatment –  just advice or literature.  (And that cost a whopping £50,000!) It can be scary when you are feeling poorly  but just a phone call can be reassuring, and give you the advice you need, and let you know if you need to go to A&E.

Feeling bright and breezy – wanting to get out to the sales, but find walking very difficult these days?  If you  have severe walking difficulties or a disability, life could be a bit easier with a Blue Badge – it lets you park where other people can’t and gets you close to the shops.!  You can call Cheshire East Council on 0300 123 5020 or you can complete the online form on the Cheshire East Council website.      They will ask you to take evidence of your difficulty or disability to the library for checking.    If you struggle to walk and you’re not sure if you fit the criteria, it still might be worth filling in the form just to make sure you are not missing out.

Talking of driving….. my friend Alyssa (a Community Agent who does some great work helping people to find the services they need) says that one of her biggest problems, and hardest to solve, is around older people who can’t  drive anymore or can’t walk very far, who are really missing  being able to go to church.    Alyssa  ends up ringing the vicar to ask if someone could volunteer and pick the person up.    Usually without much luck.    Alyssa says,

“…..there must be people who go to the same service every week and would be able to give a lift to a vulnerable older person?   For someone who has church as a large part of their life, it is a real loss for them when they can’t go any more. ”

We could do with a bank of very special, neighbourly sort of people!   In fact is it about setting up some sort of a new scheme in Congleton.  The Senior Forum were just talking about a ‘Good Neighbours’ scheme like they have in Middlewich, where people do good turns for each other?   If you would be interested in being part of a ‘Good Neighbours’ Project, Congleton Partnership would really like to meet you!    You can email me on   or Mike at Congleton Partnerships or ring Congleton Town Council on 01260 270350

That’s it from me  – keep safe, keep warm….

Bob bear signing out until next week……





Senior Forum – Bob’s Blog 12

Bob’s Blog 12 – Appears first in the Congleton Chronicle 

Bob's Blog Senior Forum

The eve of another new year! I wonder how many New Year resolutions will be made tomorrow, and how many will soon be broken?  As the saying goes, “The spirit’s willing but the flesh is weak!”  Not easy to eat less, drink less, spend less!!  I want to try and save for a good holiday in 2016, but I’m not very disciplined at putting a bit aside every week.   My resolution will be saving for a holiday – I’m going to start saving with Congleton Credit Union.  You just go along to Congleton Library on a Saturday morning between 10.00 and 11.00 and the folk there will sort you out.    I really like the idea of the Credit Union. – a trustworthy, not for profit organisation that offers a range of savings accounts and affordable loans to families and individuals. They promote effective money management, and work within the community – a brilliant solution to the costly’ payday lenders’ and loan sharks that prey on vulnerable people nowadays.


I was also thinking about ways I can help someone else this year – a bit of the feel good factor.   Volunteering not only does good to others, but makes you feel good about yourself too!   I’m backing the CVS Cheshire East Give5 campaign – I’ve pledged to give 5 sessions of volunteering in the New Year.    Something I fancy doing is encouraging a young person to make the most of life.   I think I have plenty of experience and knowledge to pass on to someone just starting their adult life.  So this caught my eye….” Are you enthusiastic, dedicated and have a passion for working with young people?”    The ad goes on to say that in January,  Eaton Bank School will be running their Twista Connect programmes, which are all about helping a young person on their journey through school, raising their aspirations and creating opportunities for them to grow and develop.  They are now looking to recruit Volunteer mentors. The people leading these programmes describe mentoring as, “…providing a unique opportunity to contribute to the personal development of a young person, from giving access to information and experience in a particular profession, to supporting them within the exciting program of various activities in the programme.


If this sounds interesting give Deb Lindop, Community Engagement Officer, a ring at Cheshire East Council 0300 123 5500 or if you want   more volunteering ideas or want to know more about the Give5 campaign visit the CVS Cheshire East website or ring 01270 763100



Maybe for you 2016 is the year that you decide you want to get more out of life –perhaps life has become a bit ‘samey’ – and at our age excitement doesn’t come to us we have to make it happen!

The Jubilee Club at New Life Church, Congleton has been running since May 2011 and has over 350 people on the register, with a weekly attendance of 30 to 40 people. The club is free and is great for anyone who is; struggling a bit with life; needs a place where they can belong feel safe and accepted; wanting to make wholesome friendships, wanting to learn new skills or be helped into employment.   The club has an allotment where members can have the harvested crops for free.   They have a craft group, cooking group, and life skills sessions covering things like assertiveness and money management.   They have regular social meetings and an annual coach trip and picnic out each year. For more information visit the New Life Church website or ring the office on 01260 297961


But, for some of us we do need the world to come to us.  Royal Voluntary Service volunteers are there to help (WRVS has now become the RVS so that men can be part of the great work that they do) Volunteers are available in our area who are part of the Home Bound Book Service.    A volunteer will visit you and find out what sort of books you like.   Then they collect the books ( large print if necessary) from the library and drop them off to you, and pick them up when you’ve finished with them.     And, the library makes allowances for a longer time to read the books, and doesn’t charge a late fee.  The RVS also provides what it calls ‘ Extended Library services’  – if you have a computer,  a volunteer can come to the house and help with things like online shopping and skyping friends and family.    If you are interested, give Gillian Taylor a ring at the RVS on  07714 898 678

Just one last bit of information that I came across that might be of interest to some of you – £1m has been allocated to a new rapid response service called STAIRRS (Short Term Assessment , Intervention, Recovery and Rehabilitation Service).   Health and social care services are working together to agree how this will start to work – a single telephone number for professionals such as GPs, social workers and community nurses to get through to quick assessment and urgent care for people with complex needs (that’s often us oldies!) so that …..and this is the really GOOD bit – they can continue to live at home and avoid unnecessary trips to hospital or A&E.

Well, that’s all from me for 2015 – Happy New Year Everyone

Bob bear signing out till next week……





Senior Forum – Bob’s Blog Part 11

Bob’s Blog Part 11 – Appears first in the Congleton Chronicle.

Bob's Blog Senior Forum


“Twas the night before Christmas

And all through the house not a creature was stirring

Not even a mouse.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care

In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there”

That famous poem by Clement Moore!  I loved it as a child, and used to read it to my children on Christmas Eve. Then they read it to their children….. and so the tradition goes on!  The hustle and bustle of the night before Christmas – preparing the veg, getting out the best dinner plates, finding extra chairs, last minute present wrapping – and when all’s quiet arranging them under the tree for morning.   First out of bed and the cry would go up, “He’s been!”  Grand memories!

I’ll be off to my daughter’s tomorrow – my contribution to the festive meal is par –boiling the spuds for the roasties! – so I’ll soon be rolling up my sleeves and peeling spuds for six, accompanied by a glass of Baileys and Bing Crosbie singing White Christmas.

I’ve got some lovely festive news to share with you.   Do you remember I mentioned the Christmas Toy Appeal run by CVS Cheshire East?  It all started when Astra Zeneca asked for help with their annual appeal –(every Christmas staff would take a gift for a child to their Christmas parties)   CVS Cheshire East got involved with sorting and distributing, and this year have been raising extra funds at events, like a recent footy game at Crewe Alex.   Sally at CVS was looking for a local toy shop where she could spend some of the money raised, and asked me if I knew of any.  Hmmm not many small local toy shops around these , but as it happened I had been out for a Sunday jaunt with my neighbours and called in at Glebe Farm – a lovely little shop there!   I mentioned it to Sally and she had no trouble spending a few hundred pounds on more than 50 toys ! – but the best bit – Sally commented, “…although I only spoke to the shop last week, they got in touch with their suppliers and managed to source free toys for the appeal worth £252 with more to come!”  Isn’t that great.   Have to say that one of the BIG names was not at all interested in supporting the appeal.    It really paid off to SHOP LOCAL  


Got some not so nice stuff to pass on too this week –  I get news alerts from Cheshire Police – one of the PCSOs sent me this message, so just to remind you,
“Christmas is a time for happiness but history shows that Crime increases at Christmas, Please keep all windows, doors and vehicles secure at this time of celebration.”

It’s a shame we have to think about crime at Christmas – but for starters never leave a load of presents on view in your car – make sure they are in the boot!

I noticed in last week’s Chron, there was a warning about not being taken in by CONMEN who prey on older people.   It’s horrible really – they make out that you have been a victim of fraud and ask for your bank card details and personal ID numbers.   Reading this you think , I’ d never be taken in,”  but these people can come across as very believable !    So remember – don’t let them in  – always ask for identification first  (you can check out if it really is police ID by calling 101) –    and the police will NEVER ask for PIN numbers or passwords or for you to withdraw or transfer any money.  Well that’s all from me – off to start the spuds….

Keep safe, keep well, and have a peaceful and happy Christmas

Bob Bear signing out until next week……

Senior Forum – Bob’s Blog Part 10

Bob’s Blog part 10 – Appears first in the Congleton Chronicle.

Bob's Blog Senior Forum

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” as the song goes.  I’ve had some nice comments about my Christmas pullover – hope you are getting into the spirit of things and wearing yours!    D’you know I love Congleton – Christmas Lights Switch On could have been a real washout (literally) but in spite of the torrential rain loads of folk turned out and it was business as usual!  Christmas- time.

Last week’s Blog got me thinking and reminiscing about my childhood days  – Winter days; thick snow;  frozen pipes; coal fires; smoking chimneys.   Best of all, my sledge, lovingly made from old planking and bits of roofing felt for the runners !  Quick as lightning down festival Hill!   And what about liberty bodices?  My sisters wore them as soon as it turned cold – sort of thick fluffy stuff with seams – probably something Madonna would be happy to wear now – but my sisters were always rebellious when Mother got them out for Winter!  Goose fat – not for cooking with but for rubbing on your chest!   Or olive oil warmed on a spoon over the fire and rubbed in your chest and back after you’d had your weekly bath.  None of your Vicks vapour rub in those days!   And we never wasted water –on bath night the littlest had the bath water first, it progressing chronologically up the family – Dad got in last but the benefit was there was nobody in a queue telling him to get a move on!  We were always told how lucky we were to have real presents at Christmas – Dad kept up the tradition from his childhood – in our stockings we each had an apple and an orange, and a sugar mouse –and a shiny new penny !”    Christmas puddings were on the hob for hours and hours – the house windows dripping with condensation.   Mum used pieces of old sheets to cover the puddings- I used to have to put my finger on the knot as Mum tied the covers on with string.

I like family tradition, and Congleton is a great place for Christmas traditions.   There always the carol singing opposite Argos, Santa and his sleigh doing the rounds, and as usual  lots going on in town.   Pop into the Tourist Information Centre and pick up a free copy of ‘Christmas in Congleton 2015’ – everything ‘s in there.   Well not quite everything – Lyndon Murgatroyd from St James Church said that somehow their church events had been missed out, and  could I let you know that on Saturday 12th December  they are holding a coffee morning at Congleton Library.  On Christmas Eve their carol service is aimed at families and children, and you can help to build the crib, Midnight Mass is 11.30 and their Christmas Day  service at 10.00am.   Details of all the other church events are in the booklet.

I’ve made a note on my calendar of some not-to-be-missed  events … tonight 17th December Carols with Rode hall Silver Band  at St Peter’s Church 7.30pm.

Saturday 19th December Congleton Choral Society at Congleton Town Hall – tickets from Tourist Information Centre

Sunday 20th December Foden’s Band in the Town Centre round the Christmas tree 11.30am-1.30pm

Christmas  all sounds so jolly!  But I know I’ve had some tough ones!!  Sometimes  Christmas can all seems a bit too much – too many sad memories- makes you feel alone and isolated.    I keep some numbers in my phone book  so I’ll pass them on in case a listening ear….

Silverline is  a confidential helpline – information, friendship and advice for older people- open 24/7 every day of the year including Christmas Day  – 0800 4708090

Samaritans are there 24/7 as well 08457 909090

The Royal Voluntary Service Cheshire has a Good Neighbours Scheme, they provide company if you’re on your own, and also help with small practical things like shopping or picking up your pension.  Ring them on 0845 600 5885

And don’t forget Royal British Legion– they particularly want to help isolated, older  people in Congleton who have connection with the armed forces – ring Gillian McKinnon on 0808 802 8080. Or email her at

That’s it from me – Bob Bear signing out till next week….




Senior Forum – Bob’s Blog Part 9

Bob’s Blog Part 9 – Appears first in the Congleton Chronicle Bob's Blog Senior Forum

Well Winter is here good and proper! Old folk used to say they knew it was Winter when their chilblains started to play up!  I can remember when our windows were frozen up on the inside and the kids would draw pictures in the frost! ( That’s only 50 years ago)   Before we got central , we would all want to be in the room where the fire was, and then make a dash for bed – mounds of real wool blankets and feather eiderdowns – only the end of your nose felt the cold!!  It’s funny (funny peculiar that is not funny Ha Ha!) how for some of us, it’s back to keeping the one room warm because fuel really is NOT cheap!

But if you are older, and particularly if you aren’t very mobile any more, it’s real important to keep warm.   Easier said than done you might be saying.   But there is some good advice out there and also some practical help when you know where to find it.  Read on……..

If you can’t afford to heat the whole house, keep your living room warm – that means 21C and your bedroom at 18C.  And make sure you know how your heating controls work – if you’re not sure, get a friend or neighbour to suss it out and explain it to you over a cuppa.

Don’t just wear your biggest chunkiest jumper, it’s best to wear several layers of clothes – it traps the heat better and keeps you warmer.

Get cosy under a blanket or shawl if you’re just sitting and not moving around. Try to put your feet up too! The air is colder near the floor.

Try to have at least one good hot meal every day.

If you can, get up and move around, a few laps around the house will get the blood moving!

Now, If the worst happens and your heating breaks down and you just don’t know what you are going to do next, it’s really worth knowing about the Care and Repair Team at Cheshire East Council.  For example, throughout Winter they have heaters available for short term loans if your heating breaks down, or if you just can’t get your house warm enough.  If you own your own home and need urgent help with heating repairs but can’t afford it, Care & Repair can sometimes help with that too– it’s well worth asking- they have access to fast-track funds to help to put the problem right quickly, and can help you to look for a longer term solution. Help is available for low income households and people with certain health conditions –  a grant of up to £1,000.  You can contact the Care and Repair Team on 0300 123 5017 (select option 3).

One thing I know I need to do is to get my son-in-law to rid out my loft!  It’s mostly junk up there but it’s stopping me getting my insulation sorted.   I know there’s only a thin layer of fibre- glass up there – put it down myself many moons ago – togged up like a mountaineer with just my eyes showing as  I’m so allergic to the fibre glass stuff!   The ‘Energy Saving Advice Service (0300 123 1234) can tell me where I can get low cost or even no cost deals to upgrade my insulation.

And don’t miss out on your Winter Fuel payment .  If you were born on or before 5 July 1952 you should receive a payment automatically. To find out more, contact 0845 915 1515 or go to the website Gov.UK

So lastly, and I feel passionate about this, it shouldn’t have to be a choice for older people to ‘Eat or Heat’.   I bet there are thousands of Cheshire East residents  missing out on extra financial support that they’re entitled to. Make sure you are getting what you should be getting –  and keep well and warm this Winter .  Here’s a few places that can help :

So keep warm, keep well, and keep clogging on!

Bob Bear signing out till next week……..


Senior Forum – Bob’s Blog Part 8

 Bob’s Blog Part 8 – Appears first in Congleton Chronicle 

By my calculations there are now 28 shopping days to Christmas –so if you have 10 pressies to buy you need to buy one every 2 3/4  days …..    So I’ve made a start!  One of our relations would only shop at Woolworths for his presents, bought what he liked the look of and then decided later who would have what!  There was always a bit of swapping going on Christmas morning –“ who wants the amaryllis in a pot??”

Christmas is a lovely time if you have friends and family to share it with.   But I was reading something recently that said more than a million older people in the UK say they go for over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member!   They have a petition that they want people to sign.   I’m getting good now at finding things out – I went onto my computer and looked for the Age UK Cheshire website and filled in their petition – 13,269 have already signed it, so I made it 13,270.  If you can use a computer make sure you do the same – asking the Government to take action to tackle this major problem that affects the lives of millions of older people – to get local and national government to understand that older people’s loneliness really matters; that it’s a serious health problem, not a normal part of ageing, and to say they will do something about it.
When I was on the website something else caught my eye,

‘A shed is to a man what a handbag is to a woman. Both contain all the essentials to survive the modern world.’ Oh SO RIGHT!
I agree with Age UK Cheshire when they say that every man needs access to a shed.   The nearest one for guys in Congleton is the one  in Crewe, Unit 16, Brierley Business Park, Mirion Street, Crewe, CW1 2AZ. Tel: 01270 748645  open from Monday – Thursday 10am-4pm

The shed is actually an industrial unit where men can meet and do stuff like  woodworking, metalworking, art and computers –  like a youth club for the over 50’s! Steve Thrower is the  Men in Sheds Project Officer, he says,

“Some people are using skills they’ve used all their lives, at work and at play. Some have never picked up a saw, power tool or operated a lathe.  It’s a chance to learn new skills – or just pop along for a brew and a chat! Men find it far easier to chat around doing something, and with other men than they do in more formal surroundings.  The guys have come together to form new friendships, men from all walks of life.  They’ve even been known to meet outside of the shed socially.”


So, if it sounds like you, give it a go.

But –thinking back to Christmas.   I know that not everyone has money to splash out on presents – if you or someone you know is struggling right now, there may be help available.   There is a scheme called ‘Supporting You’.  This free service focuses on helping people to get the right welfare benefits and to make the most of their income.  Age UK Cheshire staff  book an appointment in advance and carry identification badges.  They also offer home visits for people over 55 who can’t get to one of their offices . For more information contact Age UK Cheshire on 01606 720434

Cheshire Community Action Community Agents also provide help with financial matters like completing forms, applying for benefits, tax advice, and  pensions advice, For more information ring Alyssa Baines, Community Agent, 07901 787272

That’s it from me – stuff to share about keeping warm in Winter in next edition!

Bob Bear signing out till next week….


Senior Forum – Bob’s Blog Part 7

Bob’s Blog Part 7 – Appears first in Congleton Chronicle Bob's Blog Senior Forum

It’s been a difficult week  – we have had a death in our family – it’s never a good time I know, but when it’s coming up  to Christmas it somehow feels worse!   Christmas is a tough time for a lot of folk, for those who are remembering times gone by, missing those who have passed away, or just thinking about time flying by and somehow wanting to put a marker in the sand, to do something that makes a difference!   Well that’s how I feel!   And it’s my birthday  this week, another year under my belt!    It put me in mind of a local charity that’s also celebrating a birthday. CVS Cheshire East (Community Voluntary Services Cheshire East) is celebrating its 5th birthday, and inspired by this, have just released a new campaign to encourage people to Give5 back to their communities.


Give5 is a really good way to give something back, to feel you can make a difference.  So what can I do? I’m not as young as I was but I’m still useful?  I could cook 5 meals for some of my older neighbours – there’s an old guy up the road who doesn’t get out of the house – I could make some of my famous lobby, take tea  round  and stay for a chat   – It might not change the world but it would change his world just for a day! Or I could give £5 to a local good cause; volunteer at the charity shop for 5 hours;  help at the luncheon club for 5 sessions.  I wonder if I could  offer to help with reading at the school just out of town – not all children have granddads and grandmas and I reckon  it might just fill a gap in a child’s life!  I do think I have a lot to give out of my life’s experiences and now I live life in the slow lane I have time to notice the important things in life  – I bet you do too, so come on, Give5
Want to know more? Just email or call the CVS Cheshire East team on 01270 763100 Nikki will give you some good ideas of other things you can do.


There’s another lovely way you can Give5.   You could help to make a child’s Christmas!  Over the last 4 years, CVS Cheshire East has been working with Storage Boost in Crewe and staff from AstraZeneca’s Alderley Park site to provide Christmas presents for families in real need across Cheshire East.   This year they want to give 3000 toys and gifts to local charities and organisations that work with families who are facing a hard time this Christmas.  You could donate £5 to the appeal or you could buy a toy for £5 or you could buy 5 toys, or 5×5 toys if you are feeling generous!!.   If you don’t have children to buy for in your own family, send your love and a gift to a child who might have a Christmas without any presents at all.

Sally at CVS Cheshire East says that all toys donated need to be in excellent condition, suitable for babies and children up to 18 years.   She asks that you please don’t buy violent types of toys like swords, guns or toy soldiers.

Please take your donations by Monday 14th December at the latest, to the Congleton toy collection point at the Disability Information Bureau, Municipal Offices, Market Square, Congleton, CW12 1EX.  Tel 01260 295725.  They are open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Fridays between 9.30am and 4.00 pm (closed on Wednesdays)

Senior Forum – Bob’s Blog Part 6

Bob’s Blog Part 6 – Appears first in Congleton Chronicle Bob's Blog Senior Forum

My friend Mike from Congleton Senior Forum sent me a flier about the Beartown Bus.  They we were offering free trips during half –term so I thought I would try it out. Every 30 minutes serving B Farm , Buglawton and Mossley.

Just hop on board at your nearest stop and enjoy the ride!  The easy access buses run half hourly throughout the day – and leather seats and free wifi mean you can travel in comfort.  Don’t forget to enter the competition to name the two Beartown Buses while you’re on board and win a further 6 months free travel too!

Beartown Bus routes are: 90 to Bromley Estate, 91 to Mossley and 92 to Buglawton. On Monday 2 November fares will return to normal: Adult £1.80 single, £3 Day, £11 Week; Children £1 single, £1.50 Day or £6 Week. For timetables and route details visit www.

Bob tried it out during half term – went to Alison’s for some Cong gingerbread and then got in my 30 min walk and had a look at Bromley Farm internet café

offering an invitation to Seniors who my wish to come along to raise issues/concerns, make proposals for activities/events or whatever.

9.53 from f ground got to Alison’s for 10.00 10.33 back to f ground f r caught the 11.05 to B Farm to have a look at internet café Caught the 11,42 back to town

Something for Bob to know- the Age UK Hub in Congleton is closing the shop and café from the 1st of December. As far as I know they are going to try and keep the classes and other services going.

  1. It’s every Wednesday and Friday at Fellowship House
  2. It costs £3 for a meal – and that includes main, pudding and tea and coffee
  3. Meals are served at 12 noon – people normally arrive around 11.50
  4. Ideally it’s best for people to book in so that they know how many to cater for – people can book by ringing Visyon on 01260 290000
  5. Yvonne – the cook – can cater for vegetarian – but would usually buy in so best to advise that will want vegetarian when letting Visyon know.


Commenting on the ‘Stay Well This Winter’ campaign, Keith Willett, National Director for Acute Care for NHS England said: “We are making sure we give people the information they need to help them to look after themselves and also to know where to go for urgent advice – whether it’s pharmacies, NHS Choices, NHS111 or A&E.

“It’s also critical we do what we can to help others stay well.  The elderly compose the largest group admitted to hospital in the winter.  Half live alone and one third never or only occasionally socialise with family or friends.  They, as a result are slow to seek help, and once ill often get too unwell.  This is a golden opportunity for us to look out for our neighbours and ensure they get any help they need.”

The NHS ‘Stay Well This Winter’ campaign urges the public to:

  • Make sure you get your flu jab if eligible.
  • Keep yourself warm – heat your home to least 18 degrees C or (65F) if you can.
  • If you start to feel unwell, even if it’s just a cough or a cold, then get help from your pharmacist quickly before it gets more serious.
  • Make sure you get your prescription medicines before pharmacies close on Christmas Eve.
  • Always take your prescribed medicines as directed.
  • Look out for other people who may need a bit of extra help over winter.


Senior Forum – Bob’s Blog Part 5

Bob’s Blog Part 5 – Appears first in Congleton Chronicle 

Bob's Blog Senior Forum

Remembrance Day is the time of year when lots of us older folk think back to war time – but it’s nice when youngsters mark the occasion!   My grandson was at my house the other evening and his pal called to collect him. He was wearing a poppy for his night out on the town– he’s just signed up for the army, starts his basic training on Monday .  Good on yer lad and God speed!

I was still a kid in the Second World War, but I remember my cousin signed up – he was accepted, though he was barely 18.   Turned out to be a crack shot – a natural – and he volunteered for the Airborne Division.    Not long after he was really in the thick of it –  caught up in the Battle of Arnhem Sept 1944..

The history books tell of how the 1st British Airborne Division was part of  the plan to  advance into Germany’s industrial heartland.  However,  they encountered far more resistance than was expected.   A night-time evacuation of the remnants of the 1st British Airbourne Division rescued 2400 men.   Unfortunately my cousin wasn’t one of them.   He told me,

“We were holed up in what was left of a house in the outskirts of the town, when we heard the rumble of an advancing tank coming ever closer.   It stopped outside the house and swung it’s turret to face the house – we were looking down the barrel of a very big gun – that was the end of my war! “

It’s incredible to imagine that these things have happened in my life time! Anyway, there was a happy ending to the story…  When my cousin got home he visited his best pal, who he’d met in basic training  and spent most of the war with, and fell head over heels for his sister –they’ve  just celebrated 69 years of marriage!!   Now that’s a nice ending!

When I think of Remembrance Day I think of the Royal British Legion .  The Legion was set up to help those returning from the First World War. Almost a century on, they’re  still there helping Service people, Veterans, and their families. The Royal British Legion  volunteers have been out in force selling poppies  But that’s not all they do.  Gillian McKinnon from the Royal British Legion was telling me that they have funding from Cheshire East Council and are all geared up to identify and address social isolation for the elderly in the area.  They want to work with other organisations that have links to the armed services in any way –  Gillian wants people to know that the Royal British Legion  are there to support anyone in the area who may have served or are currently serving and who needs some support .   I also discovered  that my dear cousin could apply for a free ‘Care Phone’  – they’re worn on your wrist or around your neck and if they are pressed , a call goes through to a 24 hour response centre who will get help.   He’s 90 now and some days is a bit wobbly  – it would be great for him.   And it’s all free for  Service and ex-Service persons

Gillian says they always need more volunteers,

“We are really keen to encourage local people to volunteer for us, to help support local heroes.”

Volunteers are trained to be caseworkers, visitors, information volunteers , fundraisers and much more.   To find out more have a look on their website or ring  0808 802 8080







Senior Forum – Bob’s Blog Part 4

Bob’s Blog Part 4 – Appears first in a weekly column in Congleton Chronicle


Well, I’m now the proud owner of an email address . Apparently this will open up a whole new world to me!  Bob's Blog Senior Forum

I’ll be able to do my shopping while still sitting in my front room.  Funnily enough my old front room was only a stone’s throw away from our local bargain store – otherwise known as May Brogan’s!! I have it on good authority that when May passed away she was such an icon in Congleton history, that the editor of the Chron wrote her eulogy himself, saying that it was far too important to hand it over to a reporter!   Back to shopping – I have done some –online …with  help!   I’ve ordered a much loved  book from my youth that I’d love to read again – “The Blue Book Guide to Cornwall”  Got it from  – not touting for trade here  but it seems good for the old and obscure books ( Remember a few years back – “Fly Fishing” by JR Hartley?)  Getting back to the point, we used to go to Cornwall  every Summer, so getting the book will really bring back memories.     I think it’s lovely re-visiting good times in your life.  I love getting out the photos – they’re kept in an old biscuit tin in the cupboard and everybody crowds round to see who they can recognise!

Memory is a strange thing – you can remember things so clearly from 60 years ago but forget what day it is!   So I was interested in going to the ‘Dementia Together’ event last week, and I was so impressed with the work that’s going on behind the scenes to help people who are living with alzheimers disease or dementia, or who can become forgetful or confused.    For example the staff at Crewe station have all had dementia awareness training, and there is a ‘safe’ room at the station complete with memory boxes and memorabilia – things to help someone in distress to find their bearings until a family member arrives.   I think that’s so caring!

I know that using public transport can be a bit tricky and scary if you’re feeling fragile!

But did you know that people living with alzheimers disease or dementia can apply for a ‘disability’ bus pass which ensures extra support from the driver – like  he won’t start to drive away until you are safely seated and he can see you are OK.   You can apply for these bus passes at Congleton Library.

Whatever you age, it’s good to keep the old grey matter moving – so here’s a few more ideas for keeping on keeping on…

Heathview – top of Heath Road in West health, opposite the shopping precinct on Sandbach Road, has a good selection of things going on and it’s open to any older person  who wants to join in – there’s a reading club on Tuesdays 2.00pm-3.00pm, board games Thursday 2.00pm-4.00pm and Needles and Natter on Sundays 2.00pm-4.00pm.    If you want to check it out or to book a place, give Wendy Townley a ring on 01260 281484

Phew – just not enough days in the week!!    And don’t forget if you are computer savvy you can email me at – let me know about events or useful info and I’ll gladly pass it on.

Bob Bear signing out till next week……