The circus comes to town

Over 750 residents, clients, staff members and relatives converged on Randwick Racecourse for a massive ball to celebrate the contribution of older people.

Mary Birchill wasn’t able to get up on the dance floor at the Seniors Ball hosted by UnitingCare Ageing’s Sydney Region but she says the event was a huge success nonetheless.

The resident of The Marion facility in Leichhardt was one of 750 residents, clients, staff and relatives who converged on Randwick Racecourse last Friday to celebrate the contribution of older people in the lead up to NSW Seniors Week.

“I was offered a dance but I have a balance problem,” Ms Birchill explains. “The boss said, ‘Come up and have a go but I said, ‘No, if I fall over it will cause too many problems’.

“But I sat there and appreciated what was going on around me. One fellow from here, Joe, danced all night and I thought he was going to fall over with a heart attack,” she says with a chuckle.

The ball had a circus theme and the featured entertainment included ‘hoopla girls’ and a trapeze act.

However, for people like Ms Birchill, the real highlight was the opportunity to mingle with other guests.

“I love people,” she says. “I’m a people person and I’m always talking to them and making myself known to them.

“My kids used to say, ‘Mum, why do you always talk to everyone?’ and I would reply, ‘It’s a good thing to do and it costs you nothing’.”

The first Seniors Ball was held in 1996 with 75 attendees and since then, the event has continued to grow.

For the past six years it has been held at Randwick Racecourse to accommodate the growing numbers and past themes have included ‘Abba’ and ‘Movie Greats’.

Guests at this year’s event received handmade invitations and the table decorations were prepared by staff members and residents.

UnitingCare Ageing’s director, Gillian McFee has been attending the Seniors Ball since she commenced her role in 2005 and she says the annual event brings people together in a special way.

“Some of the families come a long way to attend and by the end of the night, they have tears in their eyes,” said Ms McFee.

“They have forgotten what it was like when their mums and dads got dressed up and went out somewhere really special.”

“And it’s a wonderful bonding exercise for the staff and clients as well to see each other having a bit of fun.”

NSW Seniors Week begins on Sunday, 21 March.

Tags: celebration, entertainment, seniors-week, unitingcare-ageing,

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