It was all hands on deck at the Southwick Methodist Church last week as retired residents were treated to a stay-at-home cruise experience.
Elderly members of the community were served lunch and tea each day at the church in Manor Hall road, with a range of entertainment all in a nautical setting.
The three day event took place from Tuesday, August 9 to Thursday, August 11 and formed a part of the church’s 50th anniversary celebrations taking place throughout the year.
“It was the support of all the volunteers from everywhere that made it”, said Rosemary Thompson, who organised the event.
“We were delighted with the support from the local community”, she added.
Up to 36 people attended each day to ‘set sail’, enjoying the various entertainments as well as the cooked food, served by teenage members of the Girls Brigade, one of the church groups.
The church itself was decorated like a ship, with everything contributing to a feeling of being at sea on a luxury cruise trip.
Mrs Thompson’s husband was also involved, working as the ship’s pianist.
She described how one elderly attendee who lives alone told her she had never felt so cared about in a long time.
“It’s really important especially with so many people living alone”, Mrs Thompson said.
The cruise ran from 10.30am to 5pm and featured dancers from Hove and a ukulele player from the Southwick Community Centre, as well as fun exercises with laughter in the mornings.
In the afternoons residents heard thought for the day with the ship’s chaplain, before tea was served and people went home.
The cruise experience was supported by Age UK and Adur Community Transport, as well as the Sussex Community Foundation.
“It was just amazing really how the word got out”, said Mrs Thompson. “People were talking about it in the supermarket.”
Mrs Thompson also reported increased interest in some of the church’s regular activities from people who attended the cruise but weren’t previously involved with the congregation, and people are already looking forward to next year.