As the pensioners bellow out every word to ‘Born Free’ – it’s easy to forget that this is a club for people who suffer with memory loss.
For these pensioners, varying in age, it really is easy to forget everything.
But the Cogs club, which is run by AgeUK Dacorum, brings a smile to their face – and the overriding memory of our visit is one of fun and laughter.
“They can stay for as long as they are getting something out of it, benefiting from it, and enjoying it,” says Melanie Clarke, a community support manager at AgeUK Dacorum.
“It stands for cognitive stimulation therapy,” she explains of the Cogs club, of which there are five in total in the Dacorum area.
The Gazette is visiting the club being held at Lagley House in Berkhamsted on Thursday – the others are at Aldbury, Leverstock Green, Bennetts End, and a new club recently opened in Tring in March.
The eight volunteers help 16 members at each club to keep their minds and bodies active. The day usually starts with ‘orientation’, asking the members where they are and why they are here. And in typical ice-breaking fashion, they will have a quick chat about the weather as well.
The day will include a quiz, plenty of singing, the odd bit of dancing, and a theme will permeate throughout the day. Today it’s numbers day, and the group are taking on some maths problems to keep their minds stimulated.
“I love it,” says Lisbeth, who has recently celebrated her 90th birthday. Last year was a tough one for her, as she lost both her husband, as well as a son who died from motor-neurone
“The helpers are wonderful and I think they quite enjoy it, even though it’s non-stop because of us.
“Loneliness is the bête noire of getting old, and this offers some companionship.”
Lisbeth, who used to work with dyslexic people, is not alone in her enjoyment.
Barbara, who has lived in Berkhamsted for 52 years, adds: “I always look forward to it. It’s nice to make friends,”
Each of the five clubs costs roughly £15,000 a year to run, and the hardest part by far is getting the volunteers to help keep the clubs operating.
They are led by Dee Cook, who is the activities co-ordinator and runs three of the clubs.
She is responsible for overseeing many minute details, even down to handing each member a card explaining what they’ve done today, in case they forget when their carer or family ask later on.
“The main challenges are to work the memory and to keep them interested and not be bored, so we keep things short and sweet,” she says.
“I just love them having a happy day and feeling satisfied. If they look happy then I feel happy.
“We don’t want to make them uncomfortable, but we have to push them a bit and get them doing things that they wouldn’t be doing at home.
“I just love doing it all and I always have.”