ARC Stockton Arts Centre

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Romance blossoms at Staying Out in time for Valentine's Day!

The Staying Out project has produced a couple of real life love birds, just in time for the most romantic day of the year.

Pauline Fellows, 71 and Maurice Hatfield, 79, both visit each Wednesday for Staying Out, which is a weekly arts based drop in session for people over 60 who are isolated, often widowed, or have been recently discharged from hospital.

The pair now have the prestigious status of being Staying Out’s first romantic success story!

Pauline and Maurice met around a year ago over the paintbrushes and craft making activities, and recently announced their couple status at the group’s Christmas party. Every week since then Pauline has received a bunch of fresh flowers from her romantic Romeo.

Pauline, from Norton village, said Billingham-born Maurice first struck up a conversation with her when she was passing his seat and she ruffled his hair – and he was smitten from then.

She said: “I was coming back from the ladies and he moved his chair in for me to get past, so I ruffled his hair up a bit to say thank you – it was a bit cheeky but he later told me he knew then that something special was going to happen! We then saw each other each week at ARC. From then I started visiting him a few times a week, and by Christmas we had met each other’s families, my grandson loves him! So does the rest of the family, and I have been made to feel very welcome by his, everyone is really pleased for us.”

The pair are even planning some trips away together.

“He invited me to Lanzarote two weeks ago, but I thought he was joking so I said no – he’s now there with his daughter instead! He did ring me the other day though and sang ‘I Just Called to Say I Love You’ down the phone – he’s a real romantic at heart, he’s wonderful. When he is back from holiday he has promised me a trip to Whitby, it’s not Lanzarote, but as long as I’m with him that’s all that matters.”

Staying Out receives patient referrals from local GP’s who think their patients will benefit from the community class.

The project's regular attendees have struck up incredible friendships and have created beautiful crafts and can get involved with a range of activities, or just sit and have a cup of tea and a chat with the other attendees.

For more information on the Staying Out project contact Nikki Greenwood, Older People’s Programme Coordinator on 01642 525183 nikki.greenwood@arconline.co.uk