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Residents Have Their Eyes Down, but are Tickety Boo and up to Tricks Celebrating National Bingo Day

It’s eyes down for the residents at RNNH, (Retired Nurses National Home) the Bournemouth-based residential and dementia care home managed by charity Friends of the Elderly, as they celebrate  National Bingo Day. Since 2021, 27th June has been formally recognised as National Bingo Day in the UK and with their Bingo Dabbers at the ready, residents took their seats to enjoy the day’s third anniversary.

National Bingo Day is a day dedicated to celebrating and enjoying the great game of Bingo, and the residents at RNNH definitely love their weekly Bingo sessions. Jan Broughton, who has been a Volunteer at the care home for eight years, is the in-house Bingo Caller and known as ‘The Bingo Queen’. “I have been hosting the weekly Bingo games since about 2015 and they are now probably the most popular activity we deliver at RNNH.

“The games are always raucous and can get rather competitive, but they’re always good fun. Each resident has their own place they like to sit and woe betide anyone who sits in the wrong place,” said Jan.

“I suppose a good Bingo Caller can really make or break a game. The room is set-up so everyone can see me and I make sure I speak slowly, loudly and clearly so the residents can all hear me. This ensures everyone has enough time to check their Bingo cards and are up-to-date with the numbers.

“We have a range of different Bingo games in each session, for example a Line and, of course, a Full House. My favourite Bingo Call is ‘Top of the Shop’ which is number 90 and usually gets a cheer from the residents,” Jan continued.               

“We always make sure we have plenty of prizes to hand-out, it could be nice smellies and toiletries, chocolates or pretty notelets. I also host themed Bingo sessions such as Easter, Halloween but the Christmas one is definitely the residents’ favourite.

“Playing Bingo is also good for keeping minds agile and active, so is a great activity for our residents to take part in. In case I get asked any Bingo-orientated questions, I read up on the history of the game, it’s quite interesting,” Volunteer Jan added.

“I read that the earliest recorded bingo type game started in the 1500s in Italy. It is believed to have started as a descendent of the Italian lottery-type game ‘Lo Guioco del Lotto D’Italia’. Back then, just as it is now, it was a great social, interactive game. Around the 1920s, an American chap called Edwin Lowe came across the game at carnivals across the United States, but players called out ‘Beano’ not ‘Bingo’ back then. Mr Lowe decided to introduce the game to his friends and one day one of them called out ‘Bingo!’ and the rest is history.”

Rob Paton, the Activities Coordinator at RNNH said: “It’s great to see our residents engaged and enjoying their weekly Bingo! games, especially their games on National Bingo Day. We usually have about 20 residents playing. Having our long-serving Volunteer Jan as our resident Bingo Queen is wonderful as she connects so well with our residents.

The RNNH welcomes everyone but retains a strong link to its heritage having been originally built for the benefit of the retired nursing community. For many years, Bingo! has been a firm favourite activity of all our residents; so it’s fitting we are marking National Bingo Day.”

Many celebrities also enjoy playing Bingo including Kate Moss, Russell Crowe and Robbie Williams. Catherine Zeta-Jones played the game throughout her childhood and once, her parents won £100,000 on a night at Bingo which enabled them to enrol her in dance and ballet classes.

“I also read that The late Queen Elizabeth, who was Friends of the Elderly’s Royal Patron, apparently called ‘Palace’ rather than ‘House’, so our residents are in good company,” concluded Jan.

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