Eyes down for bingo and bubbly as players toast their return
- Credit: Danielle Booden
Whoops and cheers erupted at a bingo hall as the manager declared it was "eyes down" once again after five months without a single number being called.
Early bird players waiting for Palace Bingo in Great Yarmouth to re-open chinked beakers of fizz in celebration declaring it "a champagne moment".
For many it was their first time out of the house seeing different faces - and it was a moment to treasure as balloons bobbed and glasses were filled.
Maggie Brewer, from Lowestoft, said she "couldn't stop yapping" as she reconnected with friends at the venue - a social lifeline for many.
"It is the people, the company, having a yarn," she said.
You may also want to watch:
"We could not wait. We kept ringing up and getting people to go online to see if the bingo was going to open."
One woman said it "felt like yesterday" since she last visited as she picked up with friends not seen since before Christmas and quickly resumed where they had left off.
- 1 Murder investigation launched after woman found dead following house fire
- 2 Work continues on burst water main as lane closure remains
- 3 Woman in her 60s dies following Gorleston fire
- 4 Man with cerebral palsy hits Norfolk on 1,900 mile run
- 5 Government looks set to delay lifting of coronavirus lockdown restrictions
- 6 Traffic delays on major road due to burst water main
- 7 New dance academy on the lookout for members of all abilities
- 8 Flooded road causes disruption to bus services and drivers
- 9 Police and fire crews at house blaze next to hospital
- 10 Room with a dragon's view: Inside Norfolk's first wizard-themed hotel
Another regular said it had felt like a long absence.
People waiting in the foyer for the hall to open said May 17- the day indoor hospitality could re-open under the Government's roadmap out of lockdown - had been ringed on their calendars for weeks.
For Christine McDonald from Gorleston it was all about the atmosphere and the friendship - as well as a chance to pull some posh clothes out of the wardrobe.
"I was excited to come back today and here before they actually opened," she said.
All agreed it was the friendship aspect they missed the most, with the added thrill of the chance to win big.
As friends cried out to each other in greeting the biggest hurrah was reserved for owner Patrick Duffy who had laid on balloons and bubbly to welcome his guests.
Mr Duffy, a famously early adopter of Covid-safe precautions before the disease had even taken hold in the UK, said being back in business was "like riding a bike".
Handing out dobbers he joked they were "winners pens" his broad, beaming smile matched by everyone waiting, all fired-up for a whole day of enthusiastic gaming.
With screens, temperature testing, and social distancing, players - many of whom have had both jabs - said they felt safe at the venue and as arguably one of the most affected age groups it was time for them to restart their lives.
The venue was reportedly busier than a usual pre-lockdown Monday as regulars signalled their willingness to get back to normal.