Get Together host Ella Davies knows all the best places for a chat and a cuppa, and she’d like you to come along.
“Ideally I’d like to get every old person out, instead of them sitting at home looking at four walls. No one has to be lonely,” says Ella Davies, 78. “Get Togethers are something to look forward to, and there are so many things going on in Islington.”
Ella is the sort of person you want to be your friend – she’s not just easy-to-chat with, she’s also always ready to invite you to do something nice, like having a cup of tea or seeing a play. With these skills it’s no surprise that she’s a Get Together host, who helps get people chatting at Age UK Islington’s regular meet-ups at the Duke of Cambridge pub and the Hilton Hotel near Angel, the Almeida Theatre, the Park Theatre by Finsbury Park tube, and the Coronet pub in the old cinema on Holloway Road.
You’d think with so many events to host Ella would never be scared of anything, but she says that’s wrong. “On a Wednesday for the Get Together at the Coronet I walk in large as life, but before Age UK there was no way I could have walked into the pub on my own. I’d have said to a friend wait outside,” she says. She still thinks of herself as “brave” when she walks round the cinema-turned-pub encouraging anyone who looks 55-years-old or more to come and join the Age UK table on the raised rotunda by the projector. “If I see someone looking round I’ll ask ‘Have you come to join Age UK? Please come and sit down!”
From then on it’s easy… “We all get talking and talk about everything and nothing,” says Ella whose best tip about enjoying the Get Togethers is to choose a chair beside someone else, rather than sitting on your own.
“If the conversation goes flat I find I’m good at getting it going again. And if someone doesn’t hear well, I will get up and talk to them so they do not feel left out.”
Ella’s also a big fan of using your bus pass to get around Islington. “I use my pass so much, sometimes I recognise the drivers!” she adds with her distinctive Welsh lilt.
Ella, who retired when she was 69, spent a lifetime working in retail, which began with her helping her parents’ Islington milk round and ended at M&S, says she’s always been happy to talk to people, but “before Age UK they had to talk to me first! I surprised everybody when I didn’t miss work, but I’d been involved with Age Concern (now Age UK) for years, by sponsoring and charity walks, and as I’ve always had time for old people – because I always found them interesting with lovely stories to tell – so I decided to volunteer with Age UK. I think it’s daft when people say ‘I won’t mix with old people’. My problem is that I forget how old I am. I used to have terrific energy, but we’re all the same…”
Ella, who lives with her sister, Beryl (another Age UK volunteer), thinks it is a good idea for couples to do some activities separately. “It’s mostly women who come to the Get Togethers,” says Ella who has lived in Islington for more than 60 years, “but for a husband and wife it is important to have their own interests – so you might go to a class separately. But if you’ve been together all the time, and something happens, then the one left behind will have nothing.”
Like most of us Ella has to make a bigger effort to get out of the house in winter. “I do hate the darkness,” she says. “But I say to myself ‘I have to go, for Age UK’.”
Ella’s mantra to just do it has another lovely pay-off. Turns out that most days, she runs into people she knows, wherever she is in Islington. That mix of accidental meetings, planned Get Togethers and Age UK volunteering helps make Ella very positive about life. No wonder she says: “Every day is a bonus.”
Get Togethers are a place for a cuppa and a chat at venues all round Islington. Visit the Get Togethers section of this site to see what’s available to attend. For dates, travel advice and further info call 020 7281 6018.