How this Sheffield couple have dedicated their retirement to improving the lives of others in their community

Winnie and Derek Smith are the epitome of what makes Sheffield people great.

Tuesday, 2nd April 2019, 10:21 am
Updated Tuesday, 2nd April 2019, 10:24 am
Winnie and Derek Smith at the Arbourthorne Social Centre. Picture Scott Merrylees

After decades spent working away to craft everything from knives and forks to garden tools in the city's steelworks, they could have been forgiven for wanting to take it easy and put their feet up.

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Winnie and Derek Smith at the Arbourthorne Social Centre. Picture Scott Merrylees

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But as the grandparents approached retirement age in their late 60s, they both took a look around their neighbourhood of Arbourthorne and saw an opportunity to make a difference. 

For the last 14 years, they have dedicated their own lives to making that of other people’s that little bit better through their work as part of Arbourthorne Tenants And Residents Association.  

From building play areas and helping police tackle crime to hosting bingo nights and organising trips to the seaside, Winnie and Derek have had a hand in pretty much all aspects of community life over the last decade or so. 

Winnie and Derek Smith at the Arbourthorne Social Centre. Picture Scott Merrylees

TARA Chairman Derek, aged 82, said: “We get people coming up to us raising issues when we are out having a drink in the pub and people ask us in the street.” 

Committee member Winnie, aged 80, added: “We try and do whatever we can, we’re always happy to help."

The couple said they decided to get involved with the TARA because they “wanted an active retirement” and thought they could “make a difference.”  

They certainly have done that. 

The Arbourthorne Social Centre. Picture Scott Merrylees

Several years ago they saw a need for a new play area as a previous one had been left dilapidated after being targeted by vandals and arsonists. 

They secured funding for a new one on East Bank Road, which is now enjoyed daily by families in the area.

The couple also used funds to pay for two cycle bikes for the local beat bobbies to use.  

In addition, they have also refurbished Arbourthorne Social Centre with new flooring, a kitchen and better disabled access. 

The hall is seen as a hub of the community and used weekly for bingo clubs, youth activities and as a meeting place for council officials and community groups.      

Aside from helping to improve the community as a place, the couple is also instrumental in organising coach trips every year for hundreds of residents to places including Blackpool, Skegness and Scotland.  

They wanted an active retirement, and they have certainly got that, but Winnie explains that it is all worth it. 

She said: “We are very busy yes. We have a computer and a desk at home that we use for all the TARA business - we end up doing something pretty much every day. 

“But we have no regrets. It is great when you walk around and see kids on the play park and when you see people’s faces out on day trips – it makes it all worthwhile.” 

However, the couple accept that they won’t be around forever, and they would like to see more young people getting involved in the TARA group. 

Said Derek: “We would like to see the next generation take it on. It is difficult as obviously people are always busy but I would say it is worth it and you get a lot of satisfaction from working in the community.”   

Anyone interested in joining the TARA can visit the group’s Facebook page or email [email protected]