Neighbours' Chelveston group for friendship and fun proves a hit
Debs Lancaster was surprised how many people have been feeling isolated and alone
According to the song everybody needs good neighbours - and one woman from Chelveston has been helping hers, from near and far, beat boredom and find friendship with a new social group.
Using the app Nextdoor, Debs Lancaster reached out to her neighbourhood as an experiment to say hello with the possibility of making friends, but it was when she started her own group that she was inundated by people wanting a new social network.
Now her Neighbourhood Meets online forum on the app has blossomed into a real life friends meet and greet taking place next month with guests from all over East Northants.
She said: "I have had a huge response which has shocked me so much. I feel that there are so many people out there that are lonely and alone. I needed to do something to help.
"It's an app to encourage people to use to get to know their neighbours in their area. It's good to advertise for sale items or to ask if anyone knows of an electrician or whatever.
"I did introduce myself to get to know my neighbours - I only got a few 'Hi's' back, so I decided to set up a Neighbourhood Meets for over 50s because I'm in that bracket and really want to make new real friends.
"To my amazement, I discovered that so many people are in the same boat as me, not necessarily new to the area absolutely, on the contrary, people who have lived here 25 to 40 years and hardly know anyone - widows, singles and married couples."
Debs, 62, admits that after being made redundant from her job in March, she felt lonely and wanted to make new friends to take part in social activities.
She had experienced several lows in her life after her first husband Gary died of from a brain tumour 15 years ago. Tragically, eight years later her son Dean died from melanoma aged 35 with Debs herself being treated two years ago for cancer. She has now remarried to Colin, 63.
She said: "I am just an ordinary person who has had big sorrow in their life as have so many others. Firstly my husband died of cancer, then my son, aged 35 years old - but still my baby - then I myself got cancer.
"When I got cancer two years ago, my way of thinking totally changed. Life is so short. All I want to do is to give back to people who may have unfortunately had something sad happen to them. Let's face it, we all need the good support of friends.
"I have a huge heart that needs to give, especially after the 2020 Covid nightmare. People need to need people again. They need a life - not a lonely life - but a life of friends supporting each other."
Debs is hosting a garden party on June 12 and 13 to enable her group to meet in person and for chats and nibbles.
She added: "It's not too late to join in. I have a huge list which is still growing. I am now getting a younger age group.
"People have thanked me for taking the plunge to do this, and I feel flattered by this. People can't wait to come to the events, in fact everyone who enquired is coming.
"I am doing this to help people which in return helps me. It's been an eye opener and I am so looking forward to meeting all these lovely people."