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Pop-In opens up a world of new friendships

Sandra Hellig, Barry and Pat Harland and Lesley Dunham serve refreshments at the Holbeach Pop-In.
Sandra Hellig, Barry and Pat Harland and Lesley Dunham serve refreshments at the Holbeach Pop-In.

Most people would slow down just a tad when they hit their late 70s or 80s ... but not Pat and Barry Harland.

The couple described as "amazing" by Holbeach councillor Tracey Carter are the backbone of an exclusive tea and coffee shop in the town where the over 55s can enjoy a cuppa with biscuits for as little as 50p.

Pat (78) chairs The Age Uk Pop-In and Barry (87) lends a helping hand as do a small team of dedicated volunteers.

The Pop-In at 3 Church Street stands beside the Market Hill traffic lights and opens six days a week, Monday-Saturday, from 9.30am-11.30am.

Some Pop-In users describe the centre as a life-line for them, especially if they live alone, as it enables them to enjoy some happy chat with friendly company.

The Pop-In is also a gateway to other activities in the building, like bingo and cards, and people who give it a try might also like to visit Holbeach Friday Club, which Pat also chairs, at the WI Hall in Park Road.

Coun Carter said: "Isolation is a key factor in rural areas such as ours, and centres like this are so important, providing an opportunity to meet and make new friends."

She says over time, many people have moved to Holbeach and may not know that the Pop-In exists.

The Pop-In, which comes under the umbrella of Spalding and District Age UK, opened its doors in 1972.

Coun Carter said Pat and Barry and the team do an outstanding job.

"It's a lovely place," she said. "It's a huge asset for Holbeach."

Pat's introduction to the Pop-In came through taking her late mum, Mary Perry, to the venue.

That led to Pat volunteering, and eventually becoming chairman in about 2005.

She says some centre users have described the Pop-In as their life-line while, for others, it's a handy place to stop off and have a rest while out shopping.

The 50p cups of tea or coffee - 60p for a mug - are always accompanied by a couple of biscuits and sometimes cake if there is a celebration when, perhaps, someone has their birthday.

The Pop-In is always on the lookout for volunteers to help out with serving or to join the committee.

To ask about volunteering opportunities please telephone Pat on 01406 424199.


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