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Great grandmother Lynette uses the help of a Credit Union to launch giggle therapy workshops

A great grandmother has set up a ‘feelgood’ company offering laughter therapy to women and the elderly, with the help of a loan from Newport Credit Union.

Lynette Webbe, from Pill, runs The Cobweb Shaker, a business that delivers workshops that she says have helped her deal with her own health problems through humour and exercise. The 59-year-old turned to Newport Credit Union on High Street in the town centre when she was made redundant from her job as a support worker.

Lynette, who suffers with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and had her third pacemaker fitted last year, took out a loan with her local credit union to set up a new business. She had been made redundant in 2009 from her job with a charity as an activity coordinator for the elderly, where she had worked for five years and was nominated for a prestigious Chamberlain award.

Lynette said: “I’d taken a few knocks over the years, had spent four years on Unemployment Benefit, and being made redundant was a shock to my system. I was over 50, living in a flat on my own, my children had grown up, I was obese, not looking after myself and nobody knocked on the door.”

Lynette, who had moved away to be closer to family 28 years ago, returned to Wales in 2012 and visited her doctor for advice on her depression, where it was suggested she join the Welsh Government and Job Centre Plus’s Want to Work course. “I started volunteering at a community centre and then did a course in Music and Movement,” said Lynette, who has two children, five grandchildren and three great grandchildren. “Then I did a business course, and I so enjoy working with elderly people and women, I wanted to do something different that would use laughing, and simple, physical activity as therapy.”

cobwebbe shake laughter therapy

When a funding issue meant she was denied a business bursary she had been expecting, Lynette visited Newport Credit Union and joined last summer, saving a portion of the wages she was now earning in her part-time job as a support worker in Cardiff. “By Christmas, I’d saved £139, which is a lot to me,” she said. “I knew for my business to succeed, I needed to get my name out there, so I borrowed £300 from the credit union.”

Lynette’s loan paid for business cards, the insurance she needed to deliver exercises and the remainder has gone towards a website.

“I named the company Cobweb Shaker because what I do helps people to heal themselves through getting back to basics – laughter, movement and shaking away the day’s problems,” said Lynette, who decided to set up the company after running workshops to find out what women in the area said they needed.

She now gives workshops once a month at the Holistic Centre in Newport, as well as delivering her sessions in sheltered accommodation. Her classes include everything from chair aerobics, to relaxation and breathing techniques and laughter yoga, after she trained in the induced laughter technique.

“The oldest person in one of my workshops has been a 101-year-old woman,” said Lynette, who has been nominated for a Health Champion Award by Communities First and was named Heart hero by the British Heart Foundation in 2012. 

“It’s about regaining that childhood ability to laugh and have fun – we sing and play percussion with medicine spoons. ‘You Can Get It If You Really Want’ by Jimmy Cliff is a favourite, but we can dance to anything with a beat.”

Lynette has now almost paid off the Credit Union loan she took out to launch her feelgood business. “Borrowing £300 only cost me £30 on top – the interest rates are amazing and I pay around £49 every month by standing order,” she said.

“In two months, I’ll have paid it back, and I’m now saving as much as I can every month in case of further costs for the business as it grows. I’d recommend becoming a member of a credit union as soon as possible, to anyone. Getting my loan gave me back the self-esteem I needed to take the baby steps towards setting up on my own, and helped me help others to find their own confidence, too. Without the credit union, I wouldn’t have got this far, and I wouldn’t be following my dream."