A MUSICIAN was invited to speak at the House of Lords about the community arts project he runs to combat loneliness for elderly residents of Colchester.

Johnno Casson visited the famous London landmark to speak about The Warm and Toasty Club’s memory afternoons during a special reception.

The event was hosted by the National Lottery and celebrated the organisation’s success supporting similar projects over the past 25 years.

Members of Parliament and the Lords joined representatives from 50 different groups based across the UK.

Johnno was chosen to take to the podium along with Baroness Pitkeathley, chairwoman of lottery forum Dawn Austwick, MP Helen Whately and double Olympic gold medallist and UK Sport chief executive officer Sally Munday to tell the crowd about his work in Colchester.

He said: “It went extremely well and was a really lovely, inspiring day.

“This is something I will hopefully be able to tell my grandchildren about one day - I spoke in the House of Lords.

“I feel really proud our work is being acknowledged and shared as a great example of a successful community group at a national level.

“I’d never have imagined I would be invited to speak at this amazing historical venue and it was joy to share and celebrate our projects. I even made people laugh during my speech which for me is always a good thing.”

The Warm and Toasty Club’s memory afternoons feature story sharing and live entertainment and aim to combat loneliness and isolation amongst over 60s.

They take place three Fridays a month at Enoch House in Greenstead, Shrub End Social Centre and Colchester Arts Centre.

Johnno, who has released several albums under his own name as well as Snippet and Old Tramp, created the project five years ago after he was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and forced to rethink his life.

Last year the project secured £50,000 from the National Lottery Community Fund so it could expand into more venues across Colchester.

Mr Casson said: “I’m proud to have represented the participants of our club, our hard working team and in turn Colchester and Essex.”

To find out more about the club visit thewarmandtoastyclub.weebly.com