History of the Alice Cross Centre from 1996

Manager: Viv Wilson (MBE) 1996-2001

Newspaper article photo of Viv Wilson receiving the trophy with supporters behind
Viv receives the Alice Cross Trophy.
Photo: Courtesy of the Wilson Archive.

“I look back at the achievements of Alice Cross BEM with enormous respect and admiration. She made her 100th birthday and then quietly passed to the next world having made an indelible mark on her community. She sought no rewards…true to say she liked things “her way” but that was in the form of leadership when most of the people who benefitted from her endeavours welcomed her guidance and support.

The Alice – as I fondly know it- is a real treasure in our community and hopefully will continue to be a welcoming place for those in their ripening years.”

Managers: Denis & Neelia Hutchins  2001 to 2011

Newspaper article on Dennis and Neelia
Dennis and Neelia

In the beginning Neelia was asked by Viv Wilson to cook a Sunday lunch one a month, this grew to two weekday lunches each week and two Sunday lunches a month and helping with Beechcroft  ‘meals on wheels’ 3 days a week. Eventually Viv,in 2000, decided to retire as manager and recommended Denis as her successor with Viv remaining in touch by keeping her Tuesday line dancing sessions going, which she does to this day (2023)

Within a few months the Denis & Neelia team introduced a home cooked multi choice menu plus a Bistro with an a la carte menu for which Neelia gained a  certificate in 2005 as the finalist in BBC Radio 4 Food & Farming Best Dinner Lady awards.

Over the ensuing years Denis, with Neelia’s help introduced several new activities which included a monthly newsletter, a computer club, barn dancing, keep fit, bingo, Eastern Dancing, a Monday Singalong and later Scribblers writing club.

They organised many functions including two Christmas parties each year and several outside banquets in the newly acquired marquee. Continuing with Denis’s policy of seeking new ideas and activities , table tennis , Latin American dancing and a licensed bar were also introduced.

It is impossible to sum up those ten years of progress in just a few lines but a few words of thanks.
Massive Thanks go to Denis & Neelia  and those the volunteers whose unstinting help has made the Alice Cross what it is today, a thriving lively and flourishing centre.

Dennis and Neelia in unifrom
Dennis and Neelia at the Veterans Day Celebrations 2010.
Photo: Courtesy of Annie Pomeroy

Manager: Julia Street 2011 – 2022

Julia was manager of the centre for 12 years and achieved so many things during her leadership. She continued the annual Christmas Day lunch tradition, creating a welcoming place for people who would have otherwise been alone on Christmas Day. She built upon the services set up by Denis and Neelia and developed an approach for the Centre called Pathways to Health. The three pillars of Pathways to Health were Moving Effectively, Eating Well and Staying Connected, which underpinned all services and still does today.


Manager: Jacqueline O’Brien 2022 – today

See our current staff gallery for more information.