Local Face: Irene Beer

“They” say that Father Christmas only works one day a year but Mother Christmas has to work all the year round to make this possible. For Wendover Age Concern the mantle of Mother Christmas seems to have fallen to Mrs Irene Beer who is following in the footsteps of the many people who set up and developed the local organisation.

Irene Beer moved to Wendover in September 1988 about eighteen months after retirement from the School Meals Service. She and husband Jack set about making their new home and garden as comfortable as possible for themselves, their children, grandchildren and other visitors. By December, Irene was already behind the hatch at the Christian Centre serving teas, coffees, juice and biscuits to the adults and youngsters of Tiny Tots, the ecumenical service for under fives and their carers which meets at 2.00pm on Friday afternoons.

She joined the Free Church and in January 1989 found herself making teas for the Forget-me-not Club which meets at 2.00pm on Tuesday afternoons in Wendover Memorial Hall. Mrs Simpkin, a committee member since 1950 and Secretary Organiser since August 1958, died unexpectedly in August 1989 and Mrs Beer was invited to fill this post. Irene accepted the challenge.

The work involves contacting members, organising outings, speaker meetings, weekly transport, even holidays. Mrs Joyce Duncombe, Mrs Simpkin’s daughter, was an invaluable help giving people lifts in her Renault Espace, until her untimely demise. Jack Beer has always been happy giving lifts but more volunteers are always welcome.

Forget-me-not holidays are great fun. They are booked through an organisation called “Carefree” who pick up from Wendover with their own coach and two full time carers so that frail or disabled people are not excluded. They have taken as many as three people in wheelchairs on a trip for eight. This year they spent a week in a comfortable hotel in Eastboume. Trips were available but several members were completely independent during the day time.

Membership of the Forget-me-not Club is now about 60. It is for anyone over 60. Members live in their own homes, in sheltered accommodation including Poplars, Beeches and Bankside or residential accomodation including Winterton House and Mid-Bucks Nursing Home. People become members on retirement, on bereavement, or on coming to Wendover. Anyone and everyone is made to feel very welcome.

Once again, a Wendover group was floundering; the Age Concern Wednesday Luncheon Club needed a cook. Mrs Beer’s professional expertise was now being called upon. About 18 regulars used to come to the Library Room once a fortnight for food and friendship. Mrs Beer moved the venue to the Christian Centre in November 1991 and now about 42 people are served. The Christian Centre was not originally designed as a restaurant but a grant from Wendover Community Trust helped buy a suitable cooker and the kitchen passed the recent inspection with flying colours.

The 1991 Age Concern Wednesday Christmas Lunch did not happen until January 1992 but again it inspired Mrs Beer to lateral thinking so that on Boxing Day 1992, Wendover Free Church had its first Open Christmas Lunch, cooked by Mrs Beer and her family, desserts provided by Free Church members. This year, anyone on their own at Christmas is very welcome to the Christian Centre, Aylesbury Road for lunch on Tuesday 27th December. If you need transport, please telephone 622592.

If you feel you, too, could help with this very rewarding voluntary work, the St Mary’s Thursday Age Concern Luncheon Club is looking for a new coordinator, details from Trudy Morrish on 623084.