Sir Cliff Richard is to be the first Patron of the Golden-Oldies Charity, an organization that brings together hundreds of people each week across the West of England in laughter and song.
‘Goldies’ – as it has become known – was launched 3 years ago by choir leader Grenville Jones when he started four fun singing session in and around the Bath area.
These are based on the popular hits of the 50s, 60s and 70s. The ethos of the charity is to give people who are elderly and possibly isolated, events to attend where they can sing out, stretch, make friends and smile! Now the Charity runs over 40 sessions each week as well as numerous individual sessions. It works in partnership with housing providers and local authorities. It also puts on concerts and events.
The regular weekly sessions take place across Bath, Keynsham, Midsomer Norton, Swindon, Bristol and South Gloucestershire, Frome, Shepton Mallet and Street in the Mendips and in North Somerset at Weston-Super-Mare, Clevedon and Portishead.
The Charity’s Year 3 Annual Report, out this week, records nearly 1,500 individual sessions delivered in the last 12 month period.
Howard Cunningham-Smith is chairman of the Charity trustees. He said; "When Grenville started Goldies in January 2008 he said then that the ideal person to be our Patron would be Sir Cliff.
“Our fun singing sessions are now taken by 15 leaders across the west. They regularly tell us that Cliff’s big hits of the 60s and 70s are top of the pops with the elderly people who attend Goldies.
“We have kept him in touch with our progress since the start and we are honoured that we has agreed to be our Patron.”
A recent independent research project by academics at Bath University clearly showed that the Charity is having an amazing and positive effect on people’s lives.
Dr Barbra Teater was one of the authors of the report. In it she said; "The most important result was the statistically significant improvement in self-reported overall health from before their participation in the Goldies sessions to now.
“The results of this evaluation clearly indicated how participation in the Golden-Oldies enhances a participant’s health and well-being, strengthens and stimulates communities and can potentially be a cost-saving programme to society by reducing social isolation and improving overall health.”
The Charity launched a Sing for Life appeal to raise £100,000 this year to enable it to double the number of sessions it runs in the west. It wants to add another 8 weekly sessions in Bristol as well as launching new groups in Wiltshire at Trowbridge, Devizes, Bradford on Avon and Melksham.
Grenville Jones has also been meeting decision makers in Wales. The Charity has declared that it wants to make Goldies Cymru the next area it launches into later this year. This will depend on whether funding support can be found.
Golden-Oldies was the local charity of the year for the 2011 Bath Half marathon in March with saw a team of 40 runners of all abilities taking part. The Goldies team, sponsored by Nutricia UK, included the 60 year old charity founder Grenville Jones.
Goldies was also selected by ITV to be in a new series called Auction Party which will be screened in June.
Government cut backs on Local Authority spending are causing concern to Grenville and his trustees. He said; "The current economic climate is putting a huge strain on all charities, especially the smaller ones. We have fantastic support from many areas but people can only give, and do so much.
“In the UK we have a big supportive society that has developed over many years. It relies upon funding from the public and private sectors balanced with a community and volunteering spirit that is at the heart of the UK.
“Enforced cut backs mean that the balance is out of kilter and that too many charities are now reliant on public support.
“Taking into account that people are being stretched, the percentage individuals will give to charity from the pound in their pocket will decrease. The support given to charity is therefore bound to be less.”
Find out more about the charity here.