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Reading Friends

Old stories, and new memories

Written by Dan Kinnair
26 February 2019

Reading Friends volunteer, Ron, is a Newcastle native with a passion for local history, which he’s keen to share this with others. At 74 years of age, Ron, a former management consultant, is now a proud member of Reading Friends.

Sharing old stories, and making new memories

Ron has been taking part in Reading Friends in Newcastle since November 2018, when he moved into a retirement community. His fortnightly groups in the shared lounge are a great way for people to come together and have a chat over some light reading. Ron’s sessions try and help people remember things through archives, old films, and reminiscence work. Together they share stories of what they’ve remembered and make new memories.

Ron’s sessions are interactive, and he’s happy knowing that people have come to the sessions and enjoyed a good conversation. It’s an added bonus if they’ve gone home learning something new. Ron’s secret to getting people chatting us using photographs or other materials to see if they spark a response from people. Each session has a different theme – usually a different part of the town – and the local library helps Ron to find extra information from their archives about interesting landmarks in each area.

Recently the group looked at ‘the top of the town’ around Barras Bridge and they shared memories and laughs about carols at St Thomas’ church, the old windmill, and old drinking haunts.

What do you think reading can do for people who might feel a bit lonely?

‘Shared reading groups are a great way to combat loneliness, and with Reading Friends there’s a lot of opportunity to get involved. Personally, I’ve also learnt a lot from being a volunteer. A new participant introduced me to videos of trams and trolly-buses from old Newcastle, which I found fascinating. I like non-fiction, and I’m gaining things from Reading Friends, and adding to other people’s knowledge.’
Reading Friends volunteer, Ron

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