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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 small bus.
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 difference.
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!

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