STAFF and volunteers at the Island's branch of the Oddfellows were thrilled to discover their society has been shortlisted for a national award.

Oddfellows, a friendship group which brings together people of all ages and walks of life to support and value each other, has been shortlisted for the best age-friendly welcome category in the Fantastic for Families Awards.

The awards showcase the UK's top family friendly organisations and contributors to arts and culture and the best age-friendly category recognises organisations which have made an exceptional effort to ensure older visitors can access activities and events.

Maretta Heap, secretary for the Vecta Lodge, said: "We pride ourselves on being accessible to everybody, but we also recognise the challenges presented in later life for our members. Ensuring our events are spread out over the week and at different times of day helps to provide a fun and varied calendar of events for the older generation to get involved with.

"We also make sure that the events are either free or keep the costs down to ensure that they are affordable for people on low incomes, and we try our best to have mobility-friendly venues and promote lift sharing for people who struggle with transport."

Based at Unity Hall, St Thomas Square, Newport, the group's events focus on care, compassion and community values.

Maretta added: "Making and maintaining new friends in later life doesn’t come as easy as it did in the school yard, so as a group we meet regularly so we can stay in touch with others, share some laughs, as well as look out for each other."

The society's events calendar has a diverse range of activities for all ages, including fun cards afternoons, coffee mornings, ten pin bowling and group holidays.

To find our more and to receive their latest events diary, contact Maretta on 523115 or e-mail