THE Bakers Benevolent Society is concerned that people who may be eligible for a place at its Bakers Villas complex in Epping are unaware of the society's existence.

The society is a non-profit-making organisation which provides sheltered accommodation and financial support to retired members of the baking and associated industries, and their dependents.

There are presently 45 people living in Bakers Villas, in Bakers Lane, where there are five rooms still available.

Master baker Arthur Hooker, 85, who has lived at the scheme for eight years, said: "They do a marvellous job. We could pay two or three times more and still not find a better place. We want to fill the rooms up or it won't pay for them to keep it open."

The charity has been running for 170 years and moved to Epping from Leyton 30 years ago.

Residents have their own bungalow or apartment, and can cook for themselves or have hot meals provided.

A warden is on site 24 hours a day and safety and security rate highly with residents.

A social residents committee raises money and organises day trips and events, the most popular being a trip to Walthamstow Stadium.

Suzanne Pitts, the clerk to the society, said eligibility had moved from just master bakers to allied baking trades such as confectioners and biscuit producers. Even less skilled jobs such as bakery shop assistants and drivers are eligible for support from the Bakers Benevolent Society.

Mrs Pitts said: "They tend to be quite an active bunch, there's always something going on but they can dip in or out of activities as they like. It has a fantastic community feel because they share some common ground."

Resident Eileen Kelly was looking forward to the Valentines' Day band, adding: "We're hoping for a good old knees-up."

For more details about the society, ring 01992 575951, or visit