Happiness is something that a lot of lonely senior citizens only get in small doses. Many live alone, and some rarely get out to enjoy a social evening with friends. Fortunately, for the seniors in Westhoughton, there is an annual event which gives them a huge boost of happiness each Easter.
They absolutely love the Easter Bonnet Parade.
It starts about a month before the event, when some 150 people get a personal invitation from a Rotarian. They accept eagerly, and wait for the
great day. The Rotarian returns, and chauffeurs them to a grand banqueting hall, where they sit at five long tables, generally looking out friends that
they haven't seen for ages. At 6:00, the meal starts, and it is served by Rotarians, under the "traffic control" of a former District Governor, who
organises the smooth flow of service. They get a pie and peas meal, followed by cakes and tea. After clearing away, the busy Rotarians, sit down to their own tea, while the entertainment starts. We have our local Westhoughton comedian, Tommy Newton, who entertains the local population with tales in both Lancashire dialect and a military accent, according to the subject. He also has the knack of starting a joke before the last one quite finished, and we have known him to have four jokes on the go at the same time.
The highlight of the evening is the Easter Bonnet Parade, when many of the guests wear the most fantastic millinery creations, with yellow flowers,ducklings, eggs and much more. They aren't all ladies either - we have had gentlemen sporting wonderful hats. The hardest job of the night falls to our Mayoress, who has to judge the winner.
Local singer, Kevin Forrest, then leads the singing with a feast of popular songs, and soon the whole room is bursting into their wartime favourite
Towards 9:00, some of the party are ready to head for home, and the noble Rotarians assemble their groups again, and deliver them safely back to their houses and care homes. Another Rotary job well done, and something which brings enormous Happiness to some of our most deserving citizens.
Photos: The Easter Bonnet Parade in Westhoughton.
Comedian Tom Newton has them in stitches