Duck and dive! Bassingbourn bingo couple Derek and Marie step down after 25 years

Derek and Marie Bullock from Bassingbourn ran bingo nights for 25 years prior to the pandemic. 

Derek and Marie Bullock from Bassingbourn ran bingo nights for 25 years prior to the pandemic. - Credit: Karyn Haddon/Getty Images

A charitable couple from Bassingbourn are stepping down from running their regular bingo nights after 25 years. 

Derek and Marie Bullock started the bingo nights at the Peartree pub - now the Belle - as a way to drum up funds for a village hall in the lead up to the new millennium. 

Derek told the Crow: "We wanted to start a village hall, we did the bingo and the funds went towards that until 1999 - and then the pub was sold and the whole millennium fund didn't happen. We had £3,500 in total, so we wanted to continue the bingo nights for charity."

Derek was bingo caller at the weekly Monday night events, and wife Marie was on tea and coffee duty and sorted the money. All their efforts and the funds they received meant they have been able to donate to  more than 20 charities over the years.

The grandfather-of-six said: "We donated to air ambulance, Alzheimer's, Garden House Hospice in Letchworth. It was important to be able to donate and we had good fun with the bingo nights. Members would bring in prizes for the raffle and all the raffle money would go to charity.

"There was camaraderie, we would joke and laugh. They were pleasant evenings."

Although the money didn't go to the village hall in the end - and The Limes is to become an actual village hall  - they were still able to make a positive monetary contribution to the local community. 

Bassingbourn The Limes

The Limes Communal Rooms in Bassingbourn - Credit: Karyn Haddon

Derek said: "About five years ago, we realised we still had what was the millennium fund to be used. 

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"We made the donation to Bassingbourn Primary School, as did the Hoops, and it meant they were able to get their pool open."

When the pandemic hit, Derek and Marie's bingo nights were put on hold and they have decided now is the right time to step down.

Regular Lesley Bonfield is going to carry on the bingo evenings in the village - which historically attracted people from Limes Close and Knutsford Road but now they regularly get people from Spring Lane and Litlington.

Proceeds will go back into the Monday Club, which Lesley organises. 

She told the Crow: "Derek and Marie running the bingo has meant we have had somewhere to go and it's meant a lot to the elderly community. I wanted to thank them for what they have done for us."