THE LINK DAY CENTRE - Jenny Ritchie
In 1974. the leaders of the Churches formed a Steering Group
within the area and after many meetings and much debate, it was
decided to create a club for the elderly. Among the members of
the original Steering Group were Rev Colin Morton. Rev Arthur
Hill. Father Hubert. Dr Gracie. Jim Cullerton. Mrs Tulloch. Nurse
Bird, Miss Tibbie Hendrv. Jim Ritchie and Mrs Jenny Ritchie. Miss
Hendry was Secretary and Jim Ritchie was Treasurer.
We had a look at all the Halls in Prestonpans to sec which was
most suitable and when it was noted that St Gabriel's had access
for wheel-chairs, it was decided to choose that one. The Hall
had not been in regular use for some time and needed to be redecorated
but where was the money to come from?
Some of us ran a Nearly New Sale in the Town Hall during which
the Treasurer's wife nearly lost her winter coat! Fortunately,
she spotted someone trying it for si^e and reclaimed it. From
the sale we made £200.. just enough to pay for the decoration
of the Hall at St Gabriel's.
An appeal was made to the Pans folk for furniture and chairs,
carpets and suites, and everything we needed was given to us.
Quite a comfortable area was made for sitting in. and so the Link
started. We ran the Centre with volunteers, three days per week.
serving tea. coffees and biscuits, with entertainment, dancing,
whist, indoor bowls, and movement to music.
Then came wonderful news. The Social Work Department told the
Committee we could have twenty lunches per week from the School
Kitchens, on three days. Monday. Wednesday and Friday, at a small
cost and subsidized by Social Services. A minibus was also provided
to take members from a distance to the Link but this proved too
costly and had to be cancelled. Later. Social Work provided a
Jim Ritchie was the Co-ordinator for the lunches as well as Treasurer.
Nurse Bird was the person who the Doctors contacted when any of
their patients needed support from the Lunch Club. Later on Kate
BelIany took on this job.
The School Kitchens, on the whole, served quite good meals but
didn't please some (oh, haggis again!) or the Fish was always
done in the oven and folded over (no chips! Oh dear!).
The Club had a Management Committee who met when decisions had
to be made. mainly about finance, and the Social Services in Musselburgh
gave us a great deal of help. Dr Gracie and David Affleck, the
Social Work Convener, were really helpful as they secured a grant
to help with the heating and lighting. When we First started it
was portable gas heaters but St Gabriel's managed to Find the
money to have the central heating repaired and this made a great
There was a Social Club section and members paid a fee to help
pay for prizes for the whist and dominoes and they also had bus
outings organised by Mrs Jan Gordon, Mrs Davie. Mrs Potter, Peter
Wallace and J O'Neil. Mrs A Paterson and Mrs Bogie had a sewing
class and made articles to sell for the Link funds.
The Treasurer was once told by David Affleck that he should be
managing the canteen at Shrubhill Social Section if he could make
a profit on what was being charged on tea and biscuits at the
Links. A great favourite was the biscuit called Wagon Wheels and
they were selling them so cheaply that the members were buying
them by the dozen to take home!
The Committee and helpers enjoyed the companionship of the members
and later on. during the Year of the Disabled, the Steering Committee
ran a Sponsored Walk and the money from this started the Stroke
Group at the Health Centre. And that is also a success story!