Blackstaff Bingo in West Belfast has celebrated 31 years in business, having weathered four relocations, The Troubles, the credit crunch, and most recently – the pandemic.
Now managed by Seán Henderson Jnr, the Springfield Road hall was first opened by his father Seán Henderson Snr in 1990 with a little inspiration from the next generation up.
“My mother used to go to bingo down in the town and one night there was a shooting on the Grosvenor Road and I was waiting patiently on her coming home but she didn’t want to miss her bingo,” Henderson Snr told Belfast Live.
“She said to me ‘if you are so concerned why don’t you open a bingo up here and save us going into the town’. You’ve got to do what your mum tells you. Here we are 31 years later.”
Noting how important the social aspect of Blackstaff is, Henderson Snr added “my attitude is that you have to give back. Over the years we have sponsored GAA teams, soccer clubs, boxing, Girl Guides, disco dancers – you name it.”
However, with Covid heavily impacting opportunities for social interaction, the club is now making every effort to bring the community back together.
“We fog the place every two days and we try and do as much as we can to put people at ease,” said Henderson Jnr. “It’s like everything, the pandemic is part of our history now. We might not be the biggest bingo, or pay the most money, but we are extremely social.”