Jarrow-based ladies group celebrate 50 years of socialising

St Mary's Catholic Womens Guild celebrating their 50th Anniversary.
St Mary's Catholic Womens Guild celebrating their 50th Anniversary.

A group formed to bring women in South Tyneside together is celebrating 50 years of companionship.

St Mary’s Women’s Guild was founded in 1967 by Doreen Bengston to give women the chance to socialise.

St Mary's Womens Guild members soon after the group was formed.

St Mary's Womens Guild members soon after the group was formed.

At the time groups were scarce and it’s regular meetings attracted upwards of 100 women.

Together they would take part in bingo, outings and social afternoons and evening as well as travel to a range of destinations including Ireland, Austria and Jerusalem.

Now, the ladies have celebrated half a century of socialising and having a group they can call their own.

Mrs Bengston said: “When I first started the group there were 100 ladies who came to our evenings.

“At the time there wasn’t many groups around and it was somewhere they could come and spend time together, have a chat and take part in activities.

“I used to take them all over and every year we would have a holiday.”

The group started life at St Mary’s School on a Monday evening before moving to its current location at St Mary’s Church Hall in Glasgow Road, Jarrow.

They also now meet on a Wednesday afternoon.

Mrs Bengston, 88, who attends when she can due to ill health, added: “When I first started the group I never gave it a thought as to how long we would last. It just seemed to go from strength to strength each year.

“You’d hear the ladies telling their husbands they couldn’t do anything on a Wednesday as they would be needed to stay in with the children so they could come to the group.

“A lot of the women now are in their 80s and 90s but they still come along to the group.”

Over the years the ladies have raised thousands of pounds for various charities including St Clare’s Hospice, CAFOD, the church and a project in India.

The St Mary’s Women’s Guild runs on a Wednesday at the church hall from 1pm and is open to all women.