Our mission is to make time for people over 50 and to offer opportunities and friendship in a stimulating and enjoyable environment, while providing relief for carers for those vulnerable to isolation and loneliness.
Think back to yesterday. How often did someone ask how you were? On the phone, in the street, on email? Now, imagine that it is the evening and you haven’t spoken to a single soul all day and only have the TV or a pet for company – all day, every day.
Loneliness is predicted to be the next great health crisis, with proven links to malnutrition and dementia and, as bus services decline and families move apart, social isolation in rural areas becomes more acute.
This year, we celebrate the 30th Birthday of Milford and Villages Day Centre, now known as The Clockhouse. Thirty one years ago, in 1985, Dr Grisewood and Dr Mills of Milford Hospital discussed the need for a Day Centre with Dr. John Blowers, who became our first Chairman. The following year, on 9th July 1986, our then MP and also our Patron, Virginia Bottomley, opened the Centre at Milford Scout Hut for 30 ‘elderly citizens’ who would attend one day a week. With Sir Richard Thornton as our President and the then Miss Penelope Keith, as a second Patron, MVDC was launched with an impressive team at the helm. Drivers were recruited and an adapted VW Ambulance, costing £15,000, was purchased in order to transport members from the surrounding villages. By the following year, numbers had risen to 60 and MVDC was open for two days a week, surviving on fundraising, generous private donations and some local charitable grants.
In 1986, a Building Fund was started and with a combination of grants from Waverley Borough Council and the Joint Consultative Committee, along with intensive fundraising events held throughout the villages and some very generous donations, the amount required was finally raised to purchase a plot of land in Chapel Lane. In 1993, MVDC was put onto Waverley Borough Council’s budget and received funding along with other Day Centres. Building work commenced in September 1997 and the state-of- the art building was declared open by HRH Princess Alexandra in 1998.
Today, thirty years on, although a lot has changed including our trading name, the original ethos of making time for the elderly and isolated in Milford and the surrounding villages remains exactly the same and The Clockhouse offers a bright, warm, happy centre, with support and advice where needed. Friendship underlies all that we do. Membership now stands at around 366, of which 200 are frequent or regular users, we are open 5 days a week and have two disabled-access minibuses that reach out to Milford and the surrounding villages. Dame Penelope Keith is now our President.
As in 1986, a nourishing lunch (cooked in our 5-star rated kitchen) is still the focus of the day, along with the ever-popular Bingo and Raffle, but now Computers, Bridge, Pilates, Better Balance and Extend classes along with Art have also found their way into the weekly routine. The Clockhouse Cinema and an annual Lecture series regularly attract large audiences and, along with hirings, professional hairdressing and chiropody services, they have cemented the importance of The Clockhouse within the local community.
Why not pop in and see what we do? Come along with someone who you think might be lonely (they don’t advertise the fact). Or, think about joining our wonderful team of Volunteers? Whatever time you can give is invaluable to us and whatever your talent (making coffee, Reception, secretarial or simply talking to people) we need you.
Thank you, Godalming Sainsbury's. As their charity of the year 2015/16, a magnificent total of £3,178.69 was raised in our blue collecting tins at each till, by our team of Clockhouse volunteers collecting in-store and through the kindness of Sainsbury's staff.
Did you know that whenever you buy anything online - from your weekly shop to your annual holiday - you could be raising a free donation for The Clockhouse? There are nearly 3,000 retailers on board ready to make a donation, including Amazon, John Lewis, Aviva, thetrainline and Sainsbury's – it doesn't cost you a penny extra! There are no catches or hidden charges and we would be most grateful for your donations. It’s simple all you have to do is go to www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/clockhousemilford/ and sign up for free.