Centre celebrates, but future uncertain

Fran Welch cuts the cake at the 25th anniversary of the Lismore Over 50s Learning Centre, flanked by president Jill Hepburn (left) and co-ordinator Ann Aboody-Johnson (right) and members of the centre.

Their motto is Life is Learning Learning is Life and the members of the Lismore Over 50s Learning Centre are living proof that keeping active physically, mentally and creatively is the way to stay healthy.

The centre celebrated 25 years of lifelong learning at the South Lismore Bowling Club last Friday, however, the happy occasion was marred by the knowledge that if funding cant be found in the new year the centres days are numbered.

The NSW Government has cut funding to the Board of Adult & Community Education, leaving the Lismore Over 50s Learning Centre with little financial support beyond its very low fees.

Our courses are very cheap but we only use highly qualified tutors and good venues, and all the courses are geared towards the 50 plus age group, said the centres co-ordinator, Ann Aboody-Johnson. The centre fulfills a vital need and there are many, many reasons why people attend the classes for socialising, to express their creativity, to learn new skills, to make new friends, to get out of the house. Its an incredibly worthwhile community service.

Fran Welch joined the Over 50s Learning Centre in 1983 and discovered a creative heart beating inside her. Over the years Fran has tried her hand at just about everything bark painting, book binding, calligraphy, story writing, crochet and is currently attending the Friday Folk and Decorative Art classes.

Firstly I want to point out that Im not the oldest member, Ive just been here the longest, said Fran, who declined to give her age. And I keep attending the classes because it keeps me interested and I continue to learn new things.

As Fran plunged the knife into a cake big enough to feed the hundred or so members present, Ann told her to wish for just one thing funding to keep the centre going.

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