The two-part ceramics course is now complete, the pots have been glazed and distributed to participants to proudly display at home. This was all part of the First Time for Everything programme run by Royal Voluntary Service. 

Royal Voluntary Service has been running the programme nationwide since 2017 and in Hastings/St Leonards since 2019. The programme offers a wide range of taster activities for the over 55s ranging from craft activities, such as the ceramics sessions, through skills upgrades, such as first aid training, to physical activities like indoor curling.

Local artist Liz Emtage ran both ceramics workshops at St Matthews Church Centre, London Road. Participants made their works of art in the first session and decorated them in the second. The techniques required for making ceramics encourage concentration and dexterity so are ideal for promoting both physical and mental well-being.

Sometimes the focus can be on simple things. As Liz says: “You’d be surprised how many don’t know how to use a rolling pin. You roll from the tips of the fingers to the base of the hand. Roll the whole bloomin’ thing out!” 

She says the finished pieces were “really joyful”, partly because of the glazes used. Liz bought high quality, bright glazes to help the participants “enjoy the process and get a better effect”. This corresponds with the spirit of the taster sessions, not just to introduce people to new skills and activities but to make them an enjoyable and engaging process, taking into account the full range of people attending, from the shy or introverted to the more outgoing.

Christine Smith attended the pottery workshop. She said: “I think everyone found the class user friendly and productive, it didn’t matter how inexperienced you were. We all managed to achieve and it was a very friendly group.”

Rachel Rich, Royal Voluntary Service activity co-ordinator for St Leonards-on-Sea, says: “It’s been wonderful to see so many people enjoying our First Time for Everything activities. We have more exciting events coming up and hope that even more older people will come along. It’s never too late to try something for the first time.”

So, sign up to the future sessions. Events in 2020 will include a drawing workshop, singing and dance.

Alternatively, you can get involved by volunteering. Rachel says: “Our volunteers are a wonderful bunch of people and they really enjoy the buzz they get from helping others.” 

For information on how to apply phone Rachel Rich or Julie Parmenter on 01981 251820

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