'Why we're smiling, thanks to support'
IT is a lifeline that a group of pensioners in Neath don't want to lose.
And thanks to a Comic Relief grant, Cimla Over 50s club has been able to grow from strength to strength.
Around 30 people attend the group on the first and third Wednesday of the month at St Peter and St Paul's Church hall.
It gives elderly residents the chance to get out of the house and meet other people and aims increase members' confidence and self-esteem.
On her visit to see the good work the club does, actress Di Botcher, from Port Talbot, said it was easy to see how the Comic Relief grant of £1,660 had gone to good use.
"I think this group has lifted their quality of life, and that is what it is all about," said Di, currently starring in comedy drama Stella.
"It is wonderful that people are happy and they feel they have got a link to other people in their community so they don't feel isolated."
She said she thought the club was wonderful.
She said: "It is cosy and everyone is chatty. They all seem to know each other really well and are a lively bunch.
"They come here because they are interested in what is going on."
Club chairman Alan Carter said the grant has helped the group pay for hall hire, day trips and funded their much-loved bingo machine which cost £189.
"It takes any worry away about finances," he said. "The money pays for the hall so we don't have to worry about that.
"We also had a Christmas party in the town hall. We had 33 people who went to that. Everyone enjoyed themselves." Mr Carter said they also enjoy getting involved with the community.
"Six of us went up to Cefn Saeson School and the kids taught us how to use the computers," he said. "It helps us but it also helps them."
The club also welcomes guest speakers who provide information on topics such as health and well-being, welfare rights and community safety.
Mr Carter said the group started off with seven people. "Our treasurer Pauline Russ started it off. It began because they wanted to get more people in the community together and then it just built up.
"We have got different groups who come, we have got very active pensioners who go off to Benidorm every six months, and we have got those who go off on all the bus trips.
"But we also have those who are more confined to their homes. So the group gives them a chance to get out."
Marilyn Parr, 60, has been attending for the past two years.
"I was going through a bad time as I was going through a divorce and I went to the library and I saw a notice about the club," she said.
"I was looking for something for me to do. I plucked up the courage and I have been coming ever since.
"I had a lovely warm welcome when I first came. I have learnt so much as we have had some fantastic talks.
"Everybody is friendly. We are all young at heart. People think when you get to your 50s, 60s and 70s you have to give up on life but there is always something out there."
Alma Rogers, 75, from Cimla, added: "It is lovely here. My husband passed away in July so my friends said I should come along. It has brought me out me out of the house. I would be sitting at home otherwise."