Bingo dabbers at the ready as residents raise money for Wigan Infirmary

Residents on a Wigan street are proving that social distancing measures do not mean the end of a “full house”.
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For people on Inward Drive in Shevington have been leaving their homes each Saturday afternoon during the coronavirus lockdown to play street bingo.

The games have been organised by neighbours Gemma Jenkinson and Barrie “Bazza” Pulford to raise community spirits and collect money for the NHS.

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Gemma said: “We started doing it six weeks ago on a Saturday afternoon. Barrie brings his speaker out and his microphone. He sits on his driveway, everyone is in their front gardens sitting at tables and chairs, and we do it over the speaker so everyone can hear. I stand halfway down the street so I can hear people shouting.

Inward Drive fund-raisers Michelle Aidley, Gemma Jenkinson and Barrie PulfordInward Drive fund-raisers Michelle Aidley, Gemma Jenkinson and Barrie Pulford
Inward Drive fund-raisers Michelle Aidley, Gemma Jenkinson and Barrie Pulford

“We have a little table at the front of our house with prizes that have been donated.”

Among the prizes are vouchers from various businesses, a food hamper, gift sets and bottles of wine given by the residents.

Everyone observes social distancing guidelines and Gemma wears gloves while handing out the tickets each week for people wanting to play.

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Rather than people having to pay a certain amount to take part, they can make a donation to the intensive care unit at Wigan Infirmary.

Gemma said: “It’s only a small street and a lot of people are elderly. Everyone loves it. They are sitting in their garden and love coming out. I think it’s taken off.

“It’s good for me and Barrie because we can see everyone enjoying it. It’s raising money and keeping spirits up.”

Street bingo was just the beginning of fund-raising for the unit by people living on the street.

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So far they have also organised a raffle and resident Michelle Aidley created posters paying tribute to the NHS, which people have placed in their windows.

Gemma’s cousin Dawn Halton, from Wings Of Love, released white doves in the street last month as residents clapped for healthcare workers at 8pm on a Thursday.

Barrie’s sister is selling glass bottles decorated with fairy lights and a tribute to the NHS to boost funds.

And there was a street party to mark VE Day, where people had picnics in their own gardens, sang and played games at a distance.

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Their efforts have raised £1,300 for the intensive care unit, with residents keen for the money to go their local hospital.

Gemma said: “We really did not expect to raise so much and for the bingo to be such a hit. We have great people that live in Inward Drive and every single person on the street has contributed to what we are doing. We are happy that each week we go out and bring people’s spirits up as they look forward to it so much.”

The residents of Inward Drive hope to come together at their local pub to celebrate their fund-raising efforts once the pandemic is over.

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