A community group which helps people with gluten allergies could close on Saturday if a new leader is not found.
The Crawley Gluten Free group, which meets monthly, was set up six years ago and during that time has helped coeliacs and people who need to be on a strict gluten free diet.
But now, after founders Don and Dodie Tombs moved to the South Coast, the future of the group is looking uncertain.
Derek and Patricia Palmer of Warren Drive have been involved for some years and they have found it helps them live with Patricia’s allergy.
When she first developed it eight years ago she quickly found gluten, a substance naturally found in flour, was in most foods.
People’s reactions can range from bloating and discomfort to, in Patricia’s case, sickness and diarrhoea.
Patricia, 70, said: “You have to check everything before you pick it up and the first time we had to go shopping it took us hours. They put wheat in the most ridiculous things.
“You have to check every label. It’s a case of trial and error and everything is a lot dearer.
“Last year Don asked us all to go to different supermarkets and buy 10 items. It was £18.50 more than the normal products.”
By being involved in the group they have picked up tips from other sufferers, been able to give others advice and had the chance to cook and try out gluten free recipes together.
Patricia said: “It’s great to pass information round to one another. You can talk to people about it, share experiences and recipes.
Derek added that the group had also been raising awareness of the allergy with businesses and had made a difference.
He said: “The Crawley Gluten Free Group has been proactive in getting the supermarkets to stock products. Don was banging on the doors of restaurants. Mr Chips fish and chip shop now has a gluten free weekend.”
But after Saturday’s meeting (September 14), they will need someone to take on running the club.
Derek said: “We haven’t got time to run it, but we’re willing to help someone. There is volunteers who can assist.”
The group meets every second Saturday of the month at St Paul’s Methodist Church in Woodfield Road, Crawley at 11am to 1pm. For more information call 07950 118599 or visit the group’s website www.glutenfree-crawley.org.uk