The clocks have gone back, the days are getting lighter and longer, and the seasons are finally changing. Change is the theme of this month's story. While the warmer weather is a welcome change, it's truly inspiring to hear how some of our neighbours have coped with more significant changes to their lives.
Take David (left, at choir) who has been coming to South London Cares social clubs for just over two years. Full of stories and always ready for a chat and a giggle (and even, on occasion, a song) he's a real joy to spend time with.
(Below: David as a boy)
David is a south Londoner through and through. He was born in Walworth and has lived in the area his whole life, "Except for two years where my wife and I moved to Borough. But apart from that, I'm a born and bred Walworth boy!" he tells me as we sit down with a cup of tea.
In David's hallway, there are old photos of Elephant and Castle given to him by his son. The pictures are a far cry from the busy, urban metropolis of today. "I always say that if my parents, God rest their souls, came round to London now; they'd say 'is this London?!' because it's completely changed! But the one thing I've learnt is that you have to go along with the changes."
Indeed, David's life has been full of change. It's seen him in many different jobs. From working at Boots, too, for 19 years working down the docks, David has done it all! He has plenty of stories for me about his time at the docks, each more colourful than the next (if you ever meet David at a social club, ask him to tell you the story of his red-faced colleague. But don't say I didn't warn you).
It was David's job at Boots that led him to meet his wife, Maureen. Originally from Ireland, Maureen was in London for a short stay, and during her visit worked in the same warehouse as David. "She was only there three months, but in those three months, we met and fell in love. That was in 1960."
(Above: David and Maureen on thier wedding day)
Two years later, on September 4th 1962, David and Maureen were married in County Cork. Looking back over the wedding album with David is a real joy. "She was always smiling, always smiling". David smiles too as he looks over the photos from that happy day.
(Below: David (#20) in a knobbly knees competition on holiday with Maureen!)
Married for 47 years, with four children "and 12 grandchildren!", David and Maureen enjoyed all that London had to offer together. Their favourite pastime: dancing!
"We used to go to Irish dancing!” David tells me. “I'll tell you a very quick story. I had a good friend called George, George Quick his name was... Me and my wife took him to this Irish dance... You do a lot of swinging around and twirling and all that. And George had never been, but he asked this young Irish girl for a dance. Me and my wife were dancing away when suddenly we heard this thump. She'd slung him on the floor because he wasn't used to it!"
(Below: David and Maureen (second from right) in Lourdes)
Sadly, in 2009, Maureen passed away. "I have great, fond, memories of her" David reminisces. To honour Maureen’s memory, David organises regular pilgrimages to Lourdes. And as a way of dealing with the changes that he has faced, and to keep dancing, one of the things David does is come to South London Cares social clubs."That's why I love South London Cares. Because when you lose someone you love, keeping busy and active helps you to cope better. You know what I mean?"
David is a regular at our Desert Island Discs club and often comes to our dances and choir to boot. "I like quizzes too... me two favourites are quizzes and Desert Island Discs coz I like singing, and I like dancing. I always make the youngsters laugh when I dance because I go right down [to the floor]"
Living in London means that we all face change on a daily basis. A new block of flats here, a refurbished gastro-pub there. And inevitably, we'll all face changes in our own lives too. Whether it’s big changes like changing jobs or homes, or small changes, like the seasons turning, we all can take a leaf from David’s book: go along with it, keep connected to the community, and above all, keep dancing.
Posted by Johanna Brooks on Wednesday 10th April 2019
Johanna is the Development Coordinator at South London Cares. She heads up our fundraising programme, cheering on our donors, challenge fundraisers and all those that help to make our activities possible.