A strong, supportive social group for Sue

Updated: 07 May 2021

Meaningful friendships make the world of difference, as Sue Davies learnt first-hand after her husband passed away suddenly.

Sue (second from left) with Cleveland and Durham Branch members at an Oddfellows lunch in September 2019

Sue Davies, 81, a retired Home Economics teacher from Hartlepool, has been a member of the Cleveland and Durham Branch of the Oddfellows since she found herself alone when her husband, Tom, died suddenly 17 years ago. She’s urging others in a similar situation to try out a local social group such as hers for support and help with the building of more meaningful friendships.

I was grieving, lonely and needed a support network. I was looking forward to a long and contented retirement with Tom, but that was shattered in an instant. Sue Davies, member of the Cleveland and Durham Oddfellows

A new, supportive, social network

She said: “I was only 65 when Tom died from a cardiac arrest, so I knew I needed to keep myself moving forward. Despite having lived and taught in Hartlepool and the surrounding areas for such a long time, I realised I didn’t have many friends who lived nearby.

“I was grieving, lonely and needed a support network. I was looking forward to a long and contented retirement with Tom, but that was shattered in an instant. I was determined not to give in, so that’s when I decided to give the Oddfellows a try, having heard about the Society on local radio and receiving a flyer through the door. I took the plunge.”

Many people come along and just enjoy the company and the events – there’s something for everyone. Sue Davies, Member of the Cleveland and Durham Branch of the Oddfellows

Sue added: “I realised they were about much more than just insurance, it was an enthusiastic and dynamic team of people like me, hosting a wide variety of events - coach outings and holidays, visits to local places of interest, black tie dinners and afternoon teas, many to raise money for charities.

“Me being me, I threw myself into Branch life – writing the newsletter, volunteering to set up a lunch club and putting on a monthly speakers and quiz nights that drew the community together. Not only were these great places to bring people together, it meant I started to build a strong, supportive friendship group.”

A group of ladies chatting and laughing around a table

Here whenever you need us

The Oddfellows was originally set up in 1810 to offer workers and their families insurance should they fall on hard times. Today, we continue to provide help to its members through difficult periods, with care, welfare and financial support. Members are also invited to regular social events at their local Branch, such as coffee mornings, craft sessions, lunches out, guest talks and excursions. Online events are now also available via Zoom, to keep people connected no matter the situation.

Sue soon had a second chance at love, meeting her partner Alex who, through Sue’s encouragement, is now an active Oddfellow.

Three ladies sat next to each other at a pub table

Sue adds: “Not every member has to get involved with organising like I did, many people come along and just enjoy the company and the events – there’s something for everyone. I’ve had to hand over the reins now, due to my decreased mobility, but I’m continuing to arrange the monthly lunch club, and support my local Branch however I can.”

A varied calendar of events

COVID-19 Secure indoor events, run in accordance with government social-distancing requirements, are planning to resume at Oddfellows Branches from mid-May – roadmap permitting. Meanwhile, our online events diary is as busy as ever, with Zoom quizzes, games, guest talks and more available for everybody to join in the fun. 

To find details of your nearest Branch, visit our Branch Finder. To search for local events, visit our Events Finder.

There are also monthly online open days where you can find out more about the Oddfellows and what membership to your local friendship group has to offer.

If you're interested in joining an Oddfellows friendship group, contact us and we can send you a free information pack and local events diary.