A real community hub
9th October 2023 | posted in News
Comedy legend Stan Laurel would have approved of the way residents living in a new housing scheme on the site of his former school have come together to form a new community – with a charity fundraiser one of their latest endeavours.
People living in ‘The Laurels’ in Bishop Auckland recently came together to hold a coffee morning for Macmillan Cancer Support.
The event, which took place in the communal area of the main apartment building – the front of which was sympathetically restored to reflect its Grade 2 listed status – was well attended, with residents from the apartments and bungalows which also make up the Railway Housing Association scheme being joined by family, friends, and members of the local community.
Residents donated various prizes for a raffle and cakes were supplied free of charge by several local businesses – Longstaff’s Family Bakers, Cooplands and The Auckland Cup Cake Co - and at the end of the morning a fantastic £370 had been raised for Macmillan.
This was just the latest social event organised by the residents living in the apartments, most of whom moved in earlier in 2023.
During that time, new friendships have been established, and the scheme has already become a real hub of the community.
Carole Valente, Ann Santon, and Pat Jenkinson have taken the lead on organising the social events on behalf of the residents at The Laurels.
Carole said: “We got to know each other because we moved in at the same and having the communal lounge meant we could hold events and activities which bring everyone together.
“It’s become a real hub for everyone, and the Macmillan coffee morning was our biggest and best event yet.
“We had fantastic support from residents, families and friends and we were touched by the kind generosity of the local businesses.”
As well as new friendships, The Laurels has also brought together existing friends and family under one roof.
An example being 90-year-old Loretta Santon whose son Steven lives above her in the two-storey apartment block. Lauretta’s friend Stan Guy also moved in at the same time as her.
Loretta said: “My family home in Bishop Auckland was getting too much for me to maintain so downsizing to a ground floor apartment in the centre of town has been perfect for me.
“I am surrounded by family and friends so couldn’t be happier.”
In total, there are 28 new homes at The Laurels, consisting of 16 two-bedroom apartments and 12 two-bedroom apartments.
Matt Sugden, Railway Housing Association Chief Executive, said: “It’s clear The Laurels has become a real hub and it’s heartening to see new friendships being formed and existing friendships continuing to blossom there too.
“We are very proud of the development and it’s fantastic to see the community spirit which has been established there.”
Stan Laurel attended King James School as a boarder, between 1902 and 1903. The part of the building where the communal lounge is situated was known as The Laurel Building after the school’s most famous pupil.