• Tue. May 21st, 2024

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Tea Dancers Waltzing on in Whitley Bay Thanks to Newcastle Building Society Support

Twinkle-toed members of a popular North Tyneside tea dance group will be taking to the floor for at least another year after winning a four-figure grant from Newcastle Building Society
The Whitley Bay Tea Dance Club attracts around 40 people from across the local area to its weekly sessions at the Masonic Hall on Norham Road, and offers both health benefits for the dancers and the chance for them to meet and make friends.
The group has been largely self-sustaining over the last 18 months after it lost the charity funding it had initially had.
A range of fundraising activities are carried out to keep costs as low as possible and ensure there are no financial barriers stopping people attending.
But now, after being put forward for a grant by Julia Ashley, a customer at Newcastle Building Society’s Whitley Bay branch and a member of the Tea Dance Club committee, a £1,760 Society donation has covered the cost of hiring the Masonic Hall every week for the next 12 months.
And to mark the good news, a special celebration dance that’s open to everyone is set to be held at the larger St John’s Church Hall in Whitley Bay on Saturday 14 October.
The funding has been provided from the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation, which has been set up to provide grants for charities and community groups that are located in or around the communities served by the Society’s branch network, and put forward for support by its customers.
Earlier this year, a similar £2,000 grant enabled the Baby Equipment Loan Service & Toy Library (BELS & TL) to buy newplay equipment, bowls, plates and beakers for its weekly Stay & Play toddler group at Howdon Community Centre, which is attended by around 30 families from across the area every week.
While most members range in age from their 50s into their 90s, the Whitley Bay Tea Dance Club is open to anyone, and beginners’ ballroom classes have recently started to give more local residents the chance to learn new dancing skills.
Volunteers meet and greet members and guests each week, providing them with the chance for a chat over a cup of tea and a biscuit, and they also follow up with any non-attendees who were expected to be there to make sure they’re OK.
A few of the group’s members suffer from dementia to varying degrees, but are still able to remember the dances that make up the weekly events and so can take to the dancefloor with everyone else.
Joyce Hall, treasurer at Whitley Bay Tea Dance Club, says: “Having a regular weekly get together gives some of our members who might not otherwise see very many people something specific to look forward to, and our sessions have a very positive impact on members’ health and well-being.
“Everyone is active to their own abilities and there’s always a lovely atmosphere in the hall, with lots of singing along to the music and plenty of chances for every to talk, share memories and interact through the afternoon.
“Knowing that we’ve got the money we need to keep our venue for at least another year has brought us all a great sense of relief, and we’re very grateful to Newcastle Building Society for their generous support.”
Julia Ashley adds: “I am so pleased that this group of volunteers has financial help to continue this lovely dance, they work so hard. It is a weekly event that Mum and I can enjoy together and we like so much.
“We have made new friends here and would be very sad to see Whitley Bay lose such a great amenity.”
The Newcastle Building Society Community Fund is run in association with the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.  Grant applications for a maximum of £3,000 can be made in any Society branch or via thenewcastle.co.uk website by customers who wish to support their local communities.
Stephen Andrews, branch manager at the Society’s Park View branch in Whitley Bay, says: “This is a wonderful local initiative that provides local people with the chance to stay active and to spend time with friends old and new in a safe and welcoming environment.
“We know that lots of our members take part in the weekly dance sessions, and we’re very pleased to be helping to cover the costs of them carrying on for the next year via the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation.”
For more information on the Whitley Bay Tea Dance Club and the special celebration event on 14 October, please contact Joyce Hall on 07596 379368, email info.whitleybayteadanceclub@gmail.com or visit the Club’s Facebook page.

By Emily