INDIAN head massages, dressing up as cockneys and delivering Fred Astaire dance routines: it is all in a day's work for staff at an Orpington day centre. Reporter HELOISE WOOD discovers more.

NESTLED next to The Walnuts shopping centre is a secret hive of activity where some of the borough’s elderly residents are being preened to perfection.

The Age Concern Orpington centre in Lych Gate Road, has offered a place to go for isolated residents or those whose carers need a break, for the past 20 years.

Staff at the facility, also known as the Saxon Day Centre, are hosting a pamper day where people are having Indian head massages, manicures and pedicure-style foot spas.

Rose Burnett, 83, says:  "I first started coming five years ago and I said I didn’t want to be round all these old people, they’ll just sleep all the time, and now I love it. It is fantastic.

"It’s wonderful being pampered like this - a friend of mine who comes along is a dancer and she loves the foot spa."

As Mrs Burnett, of Dyke Drive, Orpington, has her feet pampered she reminisces about her days as a window dresser in the West End and jiving at a dance hall in New Cross. Luckily the day centre still gives her a chance to flex those muscles.

She explains: "We do chair hockey and netball where we try and get the ball through the hoop from where we’re sitting. It’s a lot of fun."

Cynthia Collins, 77, of Fairbank Avenue, Orpington, says: "We recently had a Wimbledon day where we had cream teas whilst watching the staff play tennis.

"We also had an Ascot Day last month where we played a horse racing game - my won twice so they said it was probably rigged."

News Shopper: Rose Burnett and activities coordinator Susan Mill

Activities coordinator Susan Mill, who is busy covering the ladies’ feet with foot cream, says: "The residents love doing anything different.

"Recently I dressed up as Fred Astaire and did a dance routine for them with my friend who was made up as Ginger Rogers.

"Sometimes we have Cockney Days where we serve pie, mash and liquor and the staff dress up as East End characters."

Freelance therapist and volunteer Sally Williams is offering her time for free as is mobility instructor Kelly Seppings who normally teaches chair exercises but is spending her day off buffing nails.

Joyce Turner, 81, of Artington Close, Farnborough, has been going to the facility, also known as the Saxon Day Centre, for 18 months and enjoys the variety.

She says: "You can do musical movement, take part in events or even just sleep in a chair, whatever you want.

"There are so many events going on, it’s amazing what they think up for us to do.

"I worked as a cleaner in churches and schools and so it's lovely being pampered now."

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