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End of era for seniors citizens

By Hayley Gastmeier
[email protected]

Last Monday heralded the end of an era when the Featherston Senior Citizens Social Club bid farewell to their long-serving hall.

It was far from a gloomy event however, with multiple community groups from the town in high spirits after receiving generous grants from the club from the proceeds of the hall’s sale.

The Lyon St hall, built in 1894 by the Oddfellows Lodge, was sold by the senior citizens after a major dip in their membership – meaning subs could no longer cover costs.

The members, of which there are less than 10, decided to donate the profits back to the Featherston community.

A ceremony was held at the hall on Monday at which nine groups and organisations from the town received cheques amounting to a total of over $43,000.

The club’s acting president, Val Watkins said the hall had served them well.

“It’s a very sad day for us because we have been here many, many years and this was our playground. Many years ago we had so many members.”

Mrs Watkins said in its heyday there had been at least six tables of card players, and members enjoyed indoor bowls along with housie and other activities.

“That’s all gone now and there’s only us. We had to come to some sort of decision and I think we have made the right one.”

Cross Creek Railway Society received $7000 that would be used to create, at the south side of the tunnel, a “peaceful, restful” courtyard, which would be dedicated to the senior citizens of Featherston.

Featherston Menz Shed got $5000 for a new vehicle to “help with shifting” things about town.

Featherston Camp Memorial Trust were gifted $10,000 to go towards a proposed Paul Dibble Sculpture. With the addition of the grant, the trust has almost raised the third of the cost they need to apply for a lottery grant for the balance.

Fell Locomotive Museum and Featherston Heritage Museum will be using their $5000 to assist with combining the two organisations together with “one entrance and one ticket”.

Other grant recipients included Featherston Community Centre, Red Cross Wairarapa, Turret House, Featherston Care and Craft, and Featherston Community patrol.

South Wairarapa Deputy Mayor Viv Napier said it was a “momentous occasion” for the Featherston Senior Citizens Social Club.

“It’s a very sad day for you, but a very good day for the rest of the community.”

The hall was sold to David Cleal and Lesley Christian, who have the hall on the market for $1 with the condition the hall is moved from the site, where they plan to build town houses.

The five remaining active club members, of which the oldest is 87 and the youngest is 74, would continue to convene weekly to play the card game 500, Mrs Watkins said.

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