Sophie sparks a Stratford celebration

A selfless volunteer who is quite literally the pride of Stratford has been the driving force behind an exciting new nine-day festival that is the first of its kind in the district.

Sophie Mansfield is a much-loved member of her community, having won the Pride of Stratford Citizen of the Year award, and the founder of local club Sunny Side Up, a volunteer-run organisation for people aged 50+ with the mission to ‘banish social isolation and loneliness’ and add some fun and laughter to life through activity groups and learning sessions.

Sophie, who is in her 70s, not only dedicates her time to running various activity groups for Sunny Side Up, but is also busy building websites and learning the ukulele.

It is from her work establishing Sunny Side Up as a popular and important local community that the idea for an ambitious event aimed at people aged 50-100+ came to Sophie, who was inspired by similar schemes in Brighton and York. Called Engage Festival, the nine-day event will kick off on Saturday 30 September with an information day attended by more than 50 local groups, charities and organisations, coming together to celebrate and support those in the second half of life.

The information day will encourage people to be more active and aware of maintaining good physical and mental health.  There will be opportunities at the information day to take part in archery, walking football, Zumba and drumming as well as to learn about mindfulness, staying strong and supple and staying safe online.

Sophie said: “The information day will have lots of useful resources and advice for attendees about local services and how they can access them. Primarily, however, it’s going to be a day of fun; trying new things, meeting new people and proving that you’re never old enough to stop getting the most out of life.”

Cllr Peter Richards, Housing and Infrastructure Portfolio says: “The District Council is pleased to be involved in such a great initiative for our older residents.  There is a huge range of organisations at the Information Day and some great events taking place during the Festival.  Social isolation can increase the risk of dementia as well as having other negative effects on health. The Festival will give people lots of ideas of what they can take part in.”

For more information about the festival please email engagefestival@outlook.com, visit the website www.engagefestival.org.uk or call the recorded information line 01789 332545.

Programmes are available from the District Council offices, Stratford Library and Tyler House Community Hub.