Love Thy Neighbour

Marjorie Dyson of Cleveleys (front) who threw a party last week for her neighbours to thank them for helping her when she came out of hospital.
Marjorie Dyson of Cleveleys (front) who threw a party last week for her neighbours to thank them for helping her when she came out of hospital.
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EVERYBODY needs good Neighbours...

Or so the theme tune to a famous Aussie soap goes.

And a new programme on Channel 4 – Love Thy Neighbour – has been proving just how important good neighbours are.

In the show, villagers in picturesque Grassington, in Yorkshire, are getting the chance to choose their new neighbours.

In sort-of X Factor style auditions, families are taking it in turns to try to impress the locals for a chance to live in one of the village’s cottages.

Only those who can make a positive contribution to the local community are being considered good enough for the area.

The example of Marjorie Dawson, from Cleveleys, and her neighbours just proves the point that good neighbours can, in fact, become good friends.

The 75-year-old, of Leith Avenue, was so touched by the way her neighbours rallied round when she had to go into hospital last year, she organised a special party to thank them, as well as to mark her birthday.

She invited people who lived on her street and nearby North Drive to celebrate with her.

The grandmother said: “We had a cake, a buffet and a sing-a-long, and about 20 people came altogether.

“I feel so lucky to be blessed with such caring neighbours.

“I thought it would make a nice change for people to read about neighbours who are happy and look after each other, rather than all the fighting, arguments and even stabbings you hear about on the news.

“The people in the area I live have a nice little community. It’s like a little village. Everyone is friendly and helpful.

“I had to go into hospital last year and when I came out people were so kind, helping with shopping, bringing me things, checking on me.

“I wanted to show my appreciation with the party. It was nice because some of the neighbours who hadn’t met before or didn’t really know each other were able to chat and get to know each other better.

“There are a lot of lonely people in the world, so having good neighbours can mean a lot.”

And in Bispham, 69-year-old John Simms recently won an award for being a good neighbour at Blackpool’s Community Involvement Awards.

John, who is a carer for his disabled wife Janet, who suffers from osteoporosis, was given a Good Neighbour Award for his dedication to his neighbours in Edmonton Place.

During the cold snap, he cleared snow from neighbours’ walkways and ramps and made regular shopping trips for those unable to get out themselves.

He said: “When we had that really cold winter in 2009, I helped looked after one of my neighbours, who is 93, and her son, who is in a wheelchair, and another man who lives in the local area as well.

“I’ve carried on ever since.

“It’s just things like picking up their shopping because they wouldn’t be able to walk to the shops, or carry heavy bags.

“I have also got involved with the Help the Heroes charity event we held, I dressed up in my dad’s army uniform, which I had kept.

“We collected boxes for the soldiers abroad.

“I think it is important for neighbours to look after each other. Some people have no one else. They don’t have any family close by.

“If a neighbour had an accident or broke a leg, they might need someone to help them get food and so on.

“I enjoy helping people and like making new friends. I always introduce myself to any new people who move in.

“The warden is there, of course, to help, but can’t be there 24/7 so I have given my number out on a card so people can just give me a shout if they need me.”

Another person who recently received an award for being a good neighbour was Brenda Giles, of Ibbison Court, off Central Drive.

The 65-year-old received the Mature Persons Award for her active involvement in the community centre, as well as helping her friends and neighbours with shopping and hospital trips.

She also works one afternoon a week voluntarily in a charity shop, and regularly raises funds for charity by completing the Race for Life and holding community fetes.

She said: “I just do what I can. I am only 65 and we live in the sheltered accommodation because of my husband John’s disability, but a lot of the residents are a lot older than we are.

“I just try to be there for people.

“I always enjoy helping people. I like to be involved and in the middle of things. I used to run a social club at the company I used to work for.

“I feel it is important for communities to try to get together and look after each other.

“For some people, that friendly greeting from a neighbour might be the only ‘hello’ they get all day, or even all week.

“Sometimes it’s just the smallest things which can make a big difference.

“And it makes me happy to know I might be making a difference. And I know those tiny things are appreciated.

“I don’t do it for reward, I was really surprised, but really touched, when I found out about the award.”