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It's top of the shop 90 for Shropshire bingo caller John

By Keri Trigg | Craven Arms | South Shropshire entertainment | Published:

It has been more than 20 years since John Lawrence first called the numbers at his village hall's weekly bingo night.

John Lawrence, 90, still calls the numbers at the village hall

Now aged 90, John says he will not retire until he gets more than 50 people through the doors – with the most he has had so far being 47.

John started going to the Tuesday night bingo at Clungunford Village Hall with his late wife Jean.

"We never used to play bingo but we took to it like ducks to water," he recalled.

"It keeps the brain working, ticking the numbers off.

"Then one day they asked if I would call. I wasn't too keen on it at first but Jean said to me, 'you do it, or we won't have anyone to do the bingo'.

"The rest is history."

Since he began calling, John has made it his mission to liven up the weekly event and encourage everyone in the area to come along.

Jolly

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He said: "All I try and do is jolly it all up each week and try and make it a bit interesting.

"At one time we were only getting around 25 people each week but I kept pushing it and telling people to bring a friend.

"It is a good evening, it is good for the community to get together.

"The cash prizes go up if we have more people, and we do shows and a Christmas raffle – I always use my old age pensioner pocket money to buy some prizes."

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As the attendance figures crept up, John set his target at 50 people, "to really get it moving," and said he would step down from his role once he reached the figure.

"I do enjoy it," he said. "My late wife enjoyed it, and she is on my mind every day from when I rise in the morning to when I go to sleep.

"She liked the little club, it is a friendly, family-orientated club, and we would always have a laugh and a joke there. So I do it for Jean."

So will he really retire when he has 50 people along?

Dapper

"I might be greedy and say I want 55 now," he said. "I don't like sticking in the mud.

"We will have to see whether I will retire or not – or whether they will allow me to."

The village hall committee is urging people from the community to come along to one of John's bingo nights to help him reach his target.

Chair of governors Max Maxwell said: "He is a lovely guy, very old school, and always turns up looking very dapper.

"He also volunteers behind the bar and knows exactly what everybody drinks.

"He has always said if he gets the numbers up to 50 he will retire, and we keep joking with him that once he gets up to 50 he will have to go.

Max said John had done very well to get so many people out to "a village hall in the middle of the sticks on a Tuesday night".

He added: "It is a great evening and we would love to see more people coming.

"John is a charming, old fashioned gentleman and it would be nice to help him get to his target."

Keri Trigg

By Keri Trigg
Reporter - @KeriTrigg_Star

Reporter for the Shropshire Star and Shrewsbury Chronicle based in Shrewsbury.

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