Memories of Queen Mum’s visit to Morecambe at 50th birthday party

Leslie Morgan, Dr Malcolm Brown and Audrey Brown at the Rainbow Centre's 50th birthday celebrations.
Leslie Morgan, Dr Malcolm Brown and Audrey Brown at the Rainbow Centre's 50th birthday celebrations.

On November 16 1967, Dr Malcolm Brown watched the Queen Mother officially open the Rainbow Centre.

Fifty years later, Dr Brown reflected on that day as he returned for the centre’s golden anniversary celebrations.

Lainey Hall, Christine Newman, Joy White and Beryl Mason at the Rainbow Centre's 50th birthday party.

Lainey Hall, Christine Newman, Joy White and Beryl Mason at the Rainbow Centre's 50th birthday party.

Dr Brown, now 94 years young, was part of the team who helped found the over 50s centre on Clarence Street.

He recalled how the atmosphere was “tense” as the Queen Mum arrived.

“She came in, stood on one leg, waved her hand and said ‘what a beautiful room!’ “ he said.

“Everybody relaxed then! And she went and talked to everybody.”

The Queen Mother at the opening of the Rainbow Centre in 1967.

The Queen Mother at the opening of the Rainbow Centre in 1967.

The retired Morecambe GP, who attended Thursday’s 50th birthday party with his wife Audrey, also reminisced on the role the Rainbow Centre has played in giving older people a place to meet others and remain physically, socially and intellectually active in later life.

“It has fulfilled different needs in different decades,” he said.

“All the luncheon clubs that we ran. People couldn’t afford to go out for meals in those days. They came here because they needed good food. We did a lot of work that social services were keen for us to do.”

The Rainbow Centre was originally set up in the former church building by the Morecambe and Heysham Old People’s Welfare Committee, formed in the 1950s by local solicitor, Alderman Raymond Penhale.

He was concerned about the number of lonely elderly people in the area and the lack of facilities available for them at the time.

“We did a sponsored walk to raise money and it all worked out from there,” said Dr Brown.

“We also used to get £25,000 every year from the council, until they started running out of money!”

Dr Brown began practising as a doctor in 1945. He was later part of the group who founded Morecambe Health Centre.

Long time former Rainbow Centre treasurer and retired building society manager, Leslie Morgan, was also at the gathering on Thursday along with many other members and staff past and present.

They were joined by guests including Lord Shuttleworth – Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire, Coun Roger Mace, mayor of Lancaster, and his wife the lady mayoress Joyce Mace.

People who use the centre regularly talked about how much it means to them.

“It’s brilliant, there’s nowhere else quite like it,” said Christine Newman.

“We’ve got everything we need here. You can come here have a cup of tea, meet people and there’s no cliques. Everybody gets on.”