Love, companionship and family were the common themes at the 20-year celebration of Dannevirke's Elske Centre.

The work of the centre and the companionship it provides was acknowledged in a special function for around 80 guests held on Monday in the Knox Church hall.

Guests included clients, volunteers and those who had been involved with the centre in the 20 years since it was established. Among them were Arthur and Adrienne Bruce who were Anglican ministers in Dannevirke at the time the Elske Centre was established.

Opening the proceedings was current Anglican minister Jo Crosse who said it was great to be part of such a wonderful celebration.

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"Twenty years is definitely worth celebrating and to be able to say that after 20 years the Elske Centre is going from strength to strength."

She said there are times in everyone's life when they feel isolated for any number of reasons.

"That's the time when the Elske Centre comes into its own, when you can become part of the Elske family. It goes without saying that it has become an important part of the community."

She spoke of the life the centre brings to the Anglican Church Hall, where the Elske Centre is based, and the life it brings into the work of the church.

"Elske Centre has always had a dynamic partnership with the parish."

A growing number of people were taking advantage of all the Elske Centre has to offer.

"However, the hall is coming to the end of its useful life at a time that the Elske Centre needs more space which we can't provide."

Crosse said before a new hall would be built a survey will be carried out to find out what is required by the community.

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"That will be the first stage in this project."

Elske Centre is under the umbrella of Anglican Care Waiapu. Its chief executive Lucy Laitinen was the next guest speaker.

She acknowledged the presence of Tararua mayor Tracey Collis who she said was a huge supporter of the Elske Centre.

"This says a lot about Elske Centre."

She acknowledged the work of centre manager Kay McLennan, along with her team, in putting together the celebration.

"Anglican Care Waiapu relies on philanthropic funds which means we have to go cap in hand to get fundraising. We cover an area that extends from Southern Hawke's Bay to Bay of Plenty and deliver a number of different services."

But she said it was all about creating fulfilled lives and connected communities.
"Physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health only comes about when communities are connected."

That connection was not just about knowing a client's name, it was knowing all the issues that affected their lives as individuals.

Laitinen paid special tribute to volunteer Nuala Coldstream who has been at Elske from the beginning.

"Nuala began volunteering 20 years ago. This is national volunteer week so it's a wonderful time to acknowledge Nuala's contribution."

McLennan responded by saying Elske's volunteers were the cement that held the centre together.

Proof of this was that around 12 volunteers were working on the day to make the celebration luncheon a success.

McLennan then introduced mayor Collis, a regular visitor at Elske Centre, who said everything about Elske Centre is about love.

"I love coming to Elske Centre, I love the family feeling and having fun and the way everyone watches out for each other."

Collis offered her heartfelt congratulations on 20 years and the wonderful support and friendship it fostered and expressed gratitude at the extraordinary support of its volunteers.

"Wherever there is a gap in our community volunteers step in. I thank the volunteers and the staff for the hours they put in."

She said organisations such as the Elske Centre were needed now more than ever, particularly as the population of Tararua ages.

"I have enjoyed being a guest at many Elske functions. I have felt the companionship, the fun and friendship. Elske Centre is a very special place in our community and in my heart."

Tararua District Councillor Alison Franklin spoke on the formation of a health and wellbeing group which will connect people with the help they need and the services they require.

"We will hold an expo called Age on the Go in Woodville which will showcase all the services available in Tararua and how to access those services."

Final guest speaker was Sue Langridge who was the force behind the creation of the Elske Centre with the help of the Anglican Church.

"It all began with a vision to create a place for companionship for like-minded folk."
Having trained diversional therapist Langridge was approached by Anglican Care Force to provide home-based care services. This was extended to providing social based services.

After a visit to a Gisborne care centre and much discussing of options the Elske Centre was created. Langridge decided on the name - it is Norwegian for love and companionship.

Elske Centre started with a small group of clients who took part in gentle fitness sessions, board games, cards and outings.

"There were always the delicious meals we looked forward to the most."

Langridge said as the centre's needs grew, drivers were needed as were more volunteers to assist with activities.

Recently the numbers attending have risen from six to eight a day to between 18 and 20 a day, reflecting the need for such a facility.