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Closer together

Closer together

A group of our residents who were brought closer together due to the restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic have become the talk of their village community (and beyond) due to the elaborate displays they arrange outside their homes.

Until the pandemic, the 12 people living in the Durham Aged Mineworkers’ Homes Association (DAMHA) properties at Bearpark, near Durham, had practically been strangers to each other.

But the various lockdowns and restrictions brought them together in such a way that now they have now become firm friends.

Led by organiser Eileen Thompson, the row of houses have become a real hub of the community with their Christmas lights display in 2020 being a great example.

The residents have done everything from celebrating events such as VE Day and St George’s Day through to playing outdoor bingo, having al-fresco socially distanced meals, and celebrating each other’s birthdays.

But it is the various ways they have decorated the outside of their homes and the displays they have put together in their communal gardens over the last 15 months which has attracted the attention of much wider audience, with people in Bearpark and further afield coming to see them.

The latest display has a summertime theme using dummies to depict things people normally do on holiday, such as going to the beach or playing in the park.

Eileen says: “We knew each other to wave and say hello but that was about it, but the circumstances of the pandemic have definitely brought us closer together.

“I come up with themes and let everybody know and they always fully embrace everything we do, so it’s been a lovely thing among all the hardship over the last 12 months.

“It’s even nicer that people in Bearpark and other areas have also had some enjoyment from what we have done.”

Fellow resident Colin Little said: “We always know when we see Eileen walking down the path in front of our homes that she has come up with a new plan, and we’re always happy to oblige!”

Another resident, Vera Hart-Jackson, added: “We have always observed social distancing in whatever we have done, but it’s been a lot of fun and has kept us all going through these difficult times.”

Paul Mullis, DAMHA Chief Executive, said: “It’s been wonderful to see what our residents at Bearpark have been doing. Their community spirit is second to none.”