Members of Balham and Tooting Community Sports Club for the over 60s learnt the art of balloon sculpture to create some spectacular flowers. They plan to put their new-found skills to use at functions and celebrations.
Balloon artist Betty Crooks, a retired nurse, led the session. Betty has been practising balloon art and floristry for over 50 years, creating displays for celebrations in Wandsworth – and her talents have been called on across the world.
Balloon crafting helps concentration, movement, and breathing strength too.”
She said: “Balloon crafting helps concentration, movement, and breathing strength too. We started by making wallflowers and they so loved it they want me to come back and do more in the spring.”
Merle Carter had always wanted to take up balloon art. She said, “It was really exciting to get the chance to find out how to make the creations. I found it very therapeutic and interesting, and you get quick results and am inspired to take it up further.”
A former registered nurse from St George’s Hospital, Olga Carnegie is the co-ordinator for the club which launched 50 years ago.
Olga said: “We focus on the health and wellbeing of our club members. Many are living with the aftermath of Covid, after losing loved ones in the pandemic, and need the support and companionship of the club.”
With funding from NHS South West London’s winter engagement programme, the group has hosted talks on topics including coping with bereavement, sleep advice and vaccinations.
Olga added: “The grant has made it possible for us to offer the programme and a warm space in chilly winter days, where members can relax, and it helps people’s mental health to talk in a safe environment. Someone had not spoken before about their loss, and they learnt about the grieving process and could understand more.”
It is good therapy to come out among friends in the colder winter months.”
Merle, who lost her husband three years ago, said the group had been a wonderful source of support, with members calling her regularly to check how she was. “The bereavement sessions were useful with practical advice on coping. We must live life to enjoy it while we can.”
According to another group member, Pamela, “It is good therapy to come out among friends in the colder winter months. It gives us something to look forward to every week. Talking in groups has made a difference, making it easier to open up about difficult issues and learn more about taking care of our health. Not all of us can use computers and sometimes we miss out on important information.”
After the success of the health sessions the club is continuing their programme with exercise and talks on chronic pain and prostate cancer awareness.