Widowed seniors ready to strut their stuff

Fashion show at Oak Bay's Monterey Centre aims to help people move on

Country Life fashion consultant Eileen  styles from the store's collection.

Country Life fashion consultant Eileen styles from the store's collection.

When Joyce Bevan lost her husband last year, she realized she wasn’t alone. Instead of retreating into herself, she started up a support and activity group for other seniors who had lost their partners.

“You’ve only got one life, you have to make the most of it and keep going,” she said.

The Widows and Widowers club filled a niche at Monterey Recreation Centre. Twenty-five people came to the first meeting in October and the number has remained constant since. The group meets once a month and hosts speakers, plays bingo and goes on small out-trips.

Bevan said her main aim is to show other members that while life can be rough at times, it’s still possible to have fun.

She’s noticing that some people who were quite down when they joined are beginning to feel better.

“I think the whole philosophy is great,” said Joanne Donohue, a programmer at the centre. “People can come together with enthusiasm.”

In that spirit, Bevan revived Monterey’s long-dormant tradition of staging a fashion show for the public. Members will march down a runway July 9 in fashions from Country Life, a local business-casual clothing store, accompanied by music and slides of Paris shows.

Donohue said the models are diverse in age and shape and will be advised on their outfits by a fashion consultant from the clothing outlet. The event isn’t a promotion for Country Life, but a creative way for the support group to come together and connect with the community, she said.

“The aim is to support the group and break down stereotypes about widows and widowers.”

Bevan said one man from the group volunteered to help women down from the runway, but has since backed out because he has a girlfriend. “That’s great, he’s moving on,” she said.

The fashion show happens July 9 at 1 p.m. at Monterey Recreation Centre, 1442 Monterey Ave., just off Oak Bay Avenue.

Tickets are $8 for Monterey members and $9 for the general public.

The price also includes a small lunch.

intern@vicnews.com