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Coronavirus: ‘I’m 98, my family were nervous about me coming back to bingo but I don’t get scared easily’

The great-great-grandmother’s family were worried about her returning to play but the pensioner was just excited.

Saturday 18 July 2020 11:52, UK

  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus
  • Opinion

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Kathleen Manley, 98, from Greater Manchester, has been going to the same bingo hall for 38 years.

For her, it’s more than a game – it’s a community.

Despite her family’s concerns, Mrs Manley was back at bingo at the very first opportunity as the coronavirus lockdown eased.

As figures show many people still feel too anxious to go to leisure venues, Sky News’ Katerina Vittozzi meets the great-great-grandmother who says “I don’t get scared easily”.

I’ve been coming to this bingo hall here since it first opened in the 1980s. I always feel lucky, even if I never win much.

I used to go to bingo with my parents in a church hall in Aston – all the churches around here used to have a bingo session.

It was only for a little bit of money but I remember once knocking a cup of tea all over myself and my bingo books and I still went on to win something.

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It’s just so exciting, bingo, when you’re waiting for one number.

When the Cosmo Bingo opened (in 1982), it used to be packed downstairs so I’d go upstairs where they had a bar – not selling beer, just lemonade and things like that.

I used to have lots more friends here, but even now you automatically start chatting with the people next to you.

I’m a very sociable person, I make friends easily – it’s my smile, I think – and during lockdown I missed seeing everyone.

It was really horrible not coming.

During lockdown, I was confined to home. It was alright. I’m okay with my own company.

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I live on my own but my daughters come every week.

I get brought a chippy-tea on a Friday, my shopping gets done, and my cleaning and my washing so I’m a lady of leisure, I don’t do anything!

I’ve not been scared because I know I’ve got my daughters to rely on.

When we found out that the bingo hall was reopening, I was so excited and wanted to come back as soon as I could.

My family were nervous about me coming back but I don’t get scared easily.

We saw the general manager, Keith, and he told us about the hand sanitisers and masks and things like that.

All the social distancing doesn’t bother me.

I’m like Tarzan, aren’t I? I’m not fazed by anything. I think the war-time generation is a lot stronger.

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During the war, I was picked to be an air raid warden even though I’d only just left school.

I had to walk around the square, with my mask on, with the air raid warnings going.

My mum would come to the door and say ‘Oooh, are you alright?’ And I’d say ‘Yes mum, I’ve got to go around three more times!’

But the things that are happening with this COVID, there was nothing like that during the war, because you could still go out.

And it can be scary when you don’t know who has it. But I’m not frightened.

The thing that has got to me lately is that I’m deaf in both ears, partially sighted and I’ve got arthritis everywhere.

So I keep waking up every morning, and thank god that I’ve woken up!

But I still come to bingo.

And I’ve just won £5 – you wouldn’t think a blind woman could win that, would you?

The great-great-grandmother’s family were worried about her returning to play but the pensioner was just excited.

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