MICK DORE – THE HERO
So how did I meet Mick Dore? Well, this Wimbledon hero has been doing his bit way before I got to know about it. I never got all the details (Mick is always in a hurry with loads to do) but he decided, all by himself, that as charity starts at home, he was going to do something about it. So Mick decided to open the doors of the Alexandra SW19, where he’s the manager, to the locals of Wimbledon and beyond, for a chatter and a natter on a Monday, week in week out. A drop by for a free lunch, free chat, free friends and free company. Talk is cheap but company is golden!
As with everything nowadays, this initiative needed a name or a social media title and that’s how #MeetUpMondays was born. Thanks to Mick, just like that, easy peasy.
What I have slowly found out is that Mick has a nickname for everybody. Always has, even for himself. His own name on Twitter is @14thefrog, which is why everyone at the pub who comes on Mondays is called by a nickname. Russian Rubles (Ruby) is 82 and has a cheeky twinkle in her eye!
“It’s easier to remember who’s who,” insists Mick.
Doors open at 12. But of course, everyone is here by 11, having waited all week just for Monday to roll by again and to have somewhere to go. Lots of people heard about this from the news. Mick’s venture was aired on the evening national news and as the expression says ‘you build it, they will come!’. And they came. Others were told by friends or carers who were looking out for them.
“What did you do before these Monday meets ever started?” I asked Eileen and Maggie.
“Gosh, we can’t remember Mondays before #MeetUpMondays!” comes their cheery answer. “We’re here to support Mick in his initiative and we keep Mondays clear. We love coming here. We’ve made so many new friends!” they answer.
Mondays are such a cheerful affair. The pub is buzzing with positive vibes. The faces are not faces of lonely people. The faces are those of positive people who are actively seeking a like-minded group of people who strongly believe in sharing their day and their feelings. The faces are individuals who may be lacking friends or families or a structure around them and who heard Mick’s message of companionship and solidarity. It is a joyful day.
Does Mick work hard on Mondays? Yes, he does. Does Mick fund this venture all by himself? Yes, he does. Does the nation support and cheer for him and send in gifts and generous donations to help Mick in his work? Yes, they do. For which he is very grateful.
There are the widowers, the widows, the singletons, the lonely, the old, the young, men, women (more women than men – but that’s another entire conversation) and one dog (so far). There’s cheer, there’s laughter, there is a quiz with prizes, there’s bingo (gosh hadn’t played bingo in ages – love it) with prizes, there’s Mick singing the music questions (actually spot on and recognisable tunes haha), there are loads of sandwiches and fruit and of course the very well cooked crispy hot chips with some mayo on the side.
#MeetUpMondays usually finishes around 2 pm. Mick must carry on with his official pub duties and most people start making their way home or to various appointments. Some have come from Croydon, Lewisham, North London (1 1/2hr journey) and others are totally local.
So I came across #MeetUpMondays on twitter. New to twitter and involving myself as @HealthyWombler into the community of Wimbledon I couldn’t help but be moved by what I read and by the commitment behind #MeetUpMondays. My heart sang and I was hooked. I am a sucker for kindness. I am a sucker for giving to others. I am a sucker for community. I am a sucker for generosity of spirit and heart. I am in. I am with Mick. We’re doing this!