North East Connected

British Pie Week kicks off early at Teesside over 50s dance group

BRITISH Pie Week came early for a group of line-dancers who have raised thousands of pounds for Teesside charities.

The Hoppas, a Stockton-based dance group for the over 50s, meet weekly providing dozens of men and women – many of them widows and widowers – with the chance to dance, chat and socialise for a few hours.

As the group prepared to celebrate its fifth birthday, organiser Barbara Whitehouse entered The Hoppas into a competition to win free party catering to mark British Pie Week… and they won!

The prize was offered by Middlesbrough-based British Pie Award winners Pie Jackers, who served up a choice of their handmade pies, along with creamy mashed potato, pimped up mushy peas and rich onion gravy.

Barbara, who runs The Hoppas with husband Eric, said: “It’s been a fun-filled five years and for some the group is the only time they get out of the house.

“We meet at Newtown Resource Centre every Monday and at Elm Tree Community Centre every Thursday, and over the last five years we’ve raised money for several local charities including Daisy Chain, The Butterwick Hospice, Primrose Hill Boys’ Football Club, The Amelia Fund, Teesside Hospice, Zoe’s Place, the British Heart Foundation, Clevearc, SNAPS, and the Blue Light Babies.

“We were thrilled to win the Pie Jackers’ competition and everyone had a great time tucking in.”

More than 40 of The Hoppas lined up to take advantage of the lunchtime treat, when they met at Elm Tree Community Centre for their birthday celebrations.

Pie Jackers, Julie and Neil Fletcher, who won two golds at the British Pie Awards last year, served the meals from their street-food trailer, nicknamed the pie pod, with The Hoppas dancing a conga as they queued.

The British Pie Awards are held during British Pie Week which kicks off on Monday March 5, and the Pie Jackers are hoping to add to their awards’ tally when judging gets underway in Melton Mowbray on Wednesday. (March 7)

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