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Middlesbrough’s marvellous meetings

In recent weeks, local groups have been sharing how they have responded to pandemic restrictions. While regular, local group meetings are a key benefit for NWR members, using Zoom for these meetings is a COVID-19-related development.

Andrea Bowness-Etur, Local Organiser from Middlesbrough group, shares their marvellous programme.

“As a consequence of lockdown restrictions, we hadn’t anticipated meeting in person, other than for walks or picnics, before June. And, it’s likely we will keep activities outside until September, but that’s not to say we haven’t been meeting. We hold a fortnightly Zoom call. They are only 40 minutes and over in a flash, but they’ve been varied and great fun! 

“This week, all Zoom callers have been asked to ,’Tell us something you particularly love about your own garden, or a famous one you love to visit’.

“Next week, the Middlesbrough group will be reading a play together online (with myself and another member delivering scripts to those who want to take part).

“In to June, we’ll be discussing, ‘Your favourite painter or painting’, and ‘Walls, interpreted any way you wish’. No doubt, some will be dressing up for our Zoom call on 16th June as we celebrate the Queen’s 95th birthday.

“Later in June, if restrictions are still lifted, we will be meeting in person outdoors and celebrating NWR’s theme country for 2021 by sampling Spanish delicacies. And, there’s more food in July, as we’ll be walking on Saltburn pier, with our fish and chips! Before that, it’s hoped we’ll be having regular Sundays out together and monthly Friday meetings in person too, all going well.

“But this won’t be the first time Middlesbrough group have ‘walked’ this year. As a group, we walked, cycled and swam – virtually – from John O’Groats to Land’s End! From January to April, we plotted our weekly progress, shared via our WhatsApp group. We enjoyed ourselves so much, that we’ve started meandering back up to Scotland at a far more leisurely pace. Currently, we are somewhere beyond Dorchester, making our way along the south coast of England, ‘dropping in’ on lovely places we have heard of, but not necessarily visited in real life. We are enjoying keeping fit together and having a goal gives us the motivation to add to our collective miles total. Our members with health or mobility problems, who can’t contribute miles each week, have given us a huge boost, cheering us on from their armchairs! 

“Back in the ‘real’ world, July sees members attending an outdoor production of ‘Measure for Measure’ at Kirkleatham Hall, Redcar. And later that month, we will be hosting a guest speaker when author, Edna Hunnysett, tells us about her writing career.”

With online meetings, conferences and a schedule of talks featuring guest speakers, and regular newsletters and magazine, NWR members have been able to enjoy a range of activities during lockdowns, but it’s a delight to hear groups arranging to meet in person again.