Narborough Community Centre memorial bench remembers village’s committed bingo stalwart
Having ran the bingo nights at a village community centre for more than a decade, a woman has been remembered with a memorial bench.
Rita Hennessey died at the age of 83 having tested positive for coronavirus and has been left an enduring legacy at Narborough Community Centre.
A memorial bench has been set up at the Chalk Lane venue in memory of Rita.
She moved to the area from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, in 1998 where her son and daughter continue to live.
Rita ran the Forbuoys newsagents in Swaffham before working at the village shop in Narborough.
And she became well-known in the community for running the bingo nights at the centre for 12 years.
Andrew Rayner of the community centre said: “Everyone knew her, she was so willing to help and she would pay for things at the community centre out of her own money whether anyone knew or not. She was one of those.
“She could be confrontational and was not afraid to speak her mind, but at the same time she was extremely generous and kind. She was one for the community.
“Running the bingo nights for 12 years was quite a commitment.”
Rita was a resident at the Paddocks care home in Swaffham.
Mr Rayner said she had been battling with an illness for a while and was unsteady around Christmas having fallen and broken her hip on Christmas Eve.
Among those who have shown their appreciation to the new memorial bench is Breckland’s Narborough councillor and community centre chairman Peter Wilkinson.
He said: “Rita was so brilliant. She was Mrs Narborough Community Centre. I once asked her to organise a tombola and she arranged 50 things which were not silly little gifts. She was 100 per cent committed.
“You do not get many people like Rita.”
The bench was engraved for free by wood therapy handyman Ian Hindle with Narborough Parish Council chairman David Williams donating the cast iron ends.
Mr Williams, who is also vice chairman of the community centre committee said: “About four years ago, she helped clean and refurbish the whole community centre.
“She was a stalwart and she pulled the bingo together which was so important for fundraising at the time, and the bench was a mark of respect for that.
“She was instrumental in getting the new kitchen and keeping it to a high standard so it was not just the bingo.
“She contributed to the curtains, paying for things herself. I admire that she did not want any recognition.”
The bingo nights will resume this evening (Friday) with Covid safety measures in place.
At the time of Rita’s death, the community centre posted a statement on social media which said: “Rita was a very important andmassive supporter of the Narborough Community Centre, she ran our bingo and other fundraising. She will be missed RIP.”
In response to this post, Shelly Hunt said: “I had the pleasure of caring for Rita, and we had many lovely chats. Such sad news RIP Rita.”