Memory Afternoons are memory sharing and entertainment befriending sessions for people over 60, to help reduce loneliness and isolation, build self-confidence and friendship circles and to improve social cohesion, particularly around the understanding and engagement of older people. They are also about just having having a fun time in good company.
We have been delivering our Memory Afternoons for 5 years and listening to our participants wishes have developed the concept over this time into delightful and unique people centred events.
Our Memory Afternoons are engaging and entertaining people centred reminiscence sessions held in community spaces in Colchester, Essex - we chat, we laugh, we drink tea and eat biscuits and have a real great time revelling in the stories from everyone's past (including our own). It is all about celebrating people and the lives they have lived.
This is positive face to face engagement that is not only enjoyable but which captures people centred positive stories of days gone by for present and future generations to listen to via our partnerships with Colchester Recalled and Essex Sound and Video Archive and our online podcasts.
We also vary the content with entertainment sections - live singers & dancers, archive books of the region, old vinyl records, film, all sorts of loveliness - oh, and we do live good old communal sing-song. Have a read about one of our Memory afternoons here
Song/poets writers Anna Bruce, Mia Standen and Piers Harrison-Reid joined us on our latest #MemoryAfternoons project and wrote songs and poems inspired by participants memories - listen below
Songwriters Marina Florance and Jules Fox-Allen joined us on our previous projects Colchester Memory Afternoons and Coast to Coast and wrote songs inspired by participants memories - listen below
We also make video documentary's such as the one below which profile some of our participants and you can view more of of the videos via the link below The Warm and Toasty Club Interview's.
And at our Memory Afternoons we record participants memories and not only archive them with our partners, we also make a regular series of podcasts such as the one below
We create handcrafted Memento Cards for our participants
Feedback from participants
"I've had 2 strokes and a brain haemorrhage and the warm and toasty club has given me my sparkle again, I’ve got naughty again. I now remember so much thanks to you". "It stops everyone being lonely"
"You delivered happiness"
"We love it, it lifts our spirits high"
'You gave us friendship and our group of residents got together because of you"
"Every Friday is a surprise, its exciting to wonder what we will talk about, what entertainment we will have"
"Its made me feel well, I can even jump and skip now"
"Its opened my eyes and changed my life completely, I've never been so happy"
"Thanks to you, meeting all these new people has done me the power of good"
"There's never a dull moment, you feel alive"
"I'm now taking less tablets thanks to you"
"I do get lonely and this really helps with that"
"Your memory afternoons make me feel alive again"
“When one gets old one get used to the fact that you become almost invisible and for people just to notice you and listen to you without their eyes glazing over is unusual and to have someone like you come in and not only want to listen but cherish what we are saying is special to us”
“Such an empathic, sympathetic and understanding facilitator. You make us feel welcome and worthwhile and cherish our memories, letting people talk and ensuring everyone is heard in such a respectful way-an excellent facilitator”
"This project has revived me a lot & improved my memory & no medicine did that after my brain surgery"
“Sharing my memories with others makes me feel a lot better”
“It’s nice to share the memories and sharing our stories amongst this group we can share personal stuff and it takes a lot to get to the truth and a place like this has been better than going to the doctor and getting counselling”
"Recalling childhood memories has made my brain work again"
"This work wakes us up, makes us think and makes us appreciate what we have today"
"I sat outside during the break on the 2nd visit and said to my friend, listen to that-everyone was laughing and to hear everyone chatting and laughing was so good"
"The memory afternoons have been thoroughly enjoyable, hearing about everybody else's lives is so interesting and brings us together”
‘The work you do with the elderly is remarkable, and I know my mum thoroughly enjoyed her time with you and for making her feel so special at the afternoon showing.’ Participants daughter
"I thought your sessions were enjoyable, captivating, thought provoking and engaging for participants, especially as you diligently took them on a trip down memory lane. You are uniquely gifted to lead these special, intimate groups, your disposition and persona add I feel significantly to the sessions, exploring old memories and creating new ones has been a valuable activity for our residents to enjoy and cherish. Keep up the good work!" Manager-Retirement apartments
Emerging Music Artists
Update coming soon
We work with the finest emerging contemporary music artists who are making original music by supporting them in developing their creative music making careers and showcase them at our live variety shows. We also showcase local community ensemble acts such as barbershop choirs and brass bands
“Johnno has consistently helped me to promote my band online (both by helping me with contacts and with promoting my work through his online presence, and by asking me to remix one of his tracks). He has got me in touch with bloggers and reviewers, and helped me gain promotion through freshonthenet, and, in turn, BBC Radio 6 Music. He also provides encouragement, which is priceless, and recently booked us to play at The Warm & Toasty Club, which will allow us to perform to a new and appreciative audience. mylittlebrother wouldn't exist in its current form if it wasn't for Johnno Casson. It sounds overdramatic, but it is true. He has given me encouragement and promotion ever since my early days releasing demos from my bedroom, and this led to the confidence to put together a live band, tour, and record and release our debut album. He also put me in touch with reviewers who he knew would like it, which helped hugely when it came to promoting the album. This in turn has led to festival appearances, airplay on BBC Radio 1, Radio 6 Music and every local BBC Station in England, as well as loads of international online play,,profound thanks”. mylittlebrother
“Johnno is supportive, encouraging and very helpful, he has the ability to make you feel worthwhile as an artist, answers direct enquires with care for how the artist may feel about what he has to say but also with honesty, which for me is extremely important, his opinion of my music has given me confidence to do things that I would not have considered in the past” Marina Florance, Performer
‘Johnno has been wonderful, encouraging and believing in me, and also he has given me valuable, honest feedback. Whether that be regarding my music or business advice, it has helped to make me think more carefully about decisions I make stylistically’ Anna Pancaldi, Performer
I love playing the C2C shows. I think it's such a wonderful initiative and a really lovely thing to do for the community. I really enjoy playing especially to such an appreciative and welcoming audience and it's the perfect vibe for my music. Your support on Fresh On The Net has been really encouraging and has helped my music in so many ways to reach a wider audience, especially with the addition of the gigs. I can honestly say that your support has been really encouraging and anytime you would like me to perform, I'd be very much up for it Sasha, Performer
We hold Live Variety showcases at Colchester Arts Centre and/or local retirement establishments with delightful mixed media content-Live music-participant based documentary premieres-podcasts-live art-photography-chat-free toast and of course-Biscuit of the month. These showcases are very inclusive, engaging & charming intergenerational arts events that bring a sense of being at home in front of the open fire, enjoying good times with family and friends.
"Its just a fabulous concept and its a real pleasure just to play a modest part in this huge success.... it’s really one of the most lovely things ever to happen at Colchester Arts Centre" Anthony Roberts, Director, Colchester Arts Centre
“Brilliant initiative. Inclusive fun. Not much else spans the generations so well. Long may it reign” Audience member “This is a fantastic community project, I do hope it returns soon. It has such a special place in my heart for helping my mum to smile again after the loss of her daughter.The social history documentaries are just like life-Funny,sad,moving and interesting. Johnno gives a voice to our elders and values the stories of their lives past and present and reminds us all that everyone's story is important. Listening to the oral histories is captivating,then there is music,we have been privileged to see some great acts and talent at the live shows ..... Chat ... Well we all love a bit of chat in Essex....and biscuits .....Love biscuit of the month. The biscuit aisle has never been the same since the Biscuit of the month ! And to top it all of Nicely there is tea and and toast -Thank you Johnno and all involved” Audience member
“I love W and T. For the voice it gives to our elders to share their lives and their memories. In doing so and showcasing the social histories at the live show alongside some excellent artists, history, tea, toast, biscuits ... well what happens next is that their memories become part of our memories. Oh, and the putting together of the memories to lyrics and song .... well that had me crying ...... the tracks are so moving and like the memories shared listening to them leaves you happy and sad in a rich tapestry of life kind of way. X keep up the good work W and T we ❤ you x” Audience member
“Really special afternoon - felt more a part of Colchester community than I've ever felt in 11 years since moving here” Audience member
“Brilliant concept., embodies the spirit of love, fun and families that transcends generations. Thank you so much for a brilliant, funny warm .... And toasty afternoon well done to everyone involved. Showcase artistes were fab ,highly recommended" Audience member
“A lovely review which I completely agree with. I love love love the warm and toasty club and after joining the gang in May I was delighted to bring along several more friends along yesterday who have also become devotees.. A delightfully random mix of acts, a fantastic way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Look forward to seeing you next year. Good luck with your tour of the local retirement homes. God bless xx” Audience member