Racecourse gets tea party on right track

More than 50 people enjoyed Contact The Elderly's tea party at Musselburgh
More than 50 people enjoyed Contact The Elderly's tea party at Musselburgh
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THE youngest guest was aged 75 and the oldest was a 96-year-old woman who had last visited the East Lothian racecourse 72 years ago in 1946 with her new husband and family.

But they were among more than 50 older people who enjoyed a tea party at Musselburgh Racecourse organised by volunteer group Contact The Elderly.

Contact The Elderly (CTE) was set up in London 53 years ago by Trevor Lyttleton, MBE, as a means of providing tea and companionship to lonely older people. There are now 800 groups in the UK with 10,500 volunteers providing tea parties for older people.

In Scotland there are 125 groups helping combat the silent epidemic of loneliness in older people.

CTE volunteer Lyndsey Rafferty, 28, who organised the Musselburgh event, said: “For many of our guests this type of event is their only chance to socialise, to get out of the home environment and to enjoy a chat with like-minded people.

“It was a wonderful afternoon and the guests all seemed to enjoy themselves and left with a smile on their faces and goody bags with delicious home bakes made by my friends and family.

“I am grateful to Musselburgh Racecourse and its staff for making the facilities available and in addition to our own guests I was delighted to welcome several guests from the Hollies Day Centre in Musselburgh.”

CTE are looking to expand its Scottish network and would welcome referrals for older guests and also for volunteer drivers to transport guests to tea parties once a month, and for tea-party volunteers who will host a small group in their home once or twice a year.

Anne Grindley, CTE area organiser in Edinburgh, said: “Issues such as illness, reduced mobility or bereavement can significantly reduce people’s ability to leave home, socialise and to feel part of the community.

“There are many initiatives in the public and private sectors to address this problem, but we are the only charity established specifically to fight loneliness in older people.

“Volunteering with Contact The Elderly is so rewarding for all involved and is such a simple concept but the pleasure it gives to our guests is immeasurable.

“We will soon establish our 22nd group in Edinburgh and with groups operating from the Borders to the Highlands and Islands, we hope that by later this year we will be supporting up to 1000 guest in Scotland.”

Jennifer Kaney, Development Officer, said: “The party held at Musselburgh Racecourse was an absolutely fantastic event. We are incredibly grateful to the venue, Lyndsey and her friends and family, as well as her fellow volunteers.”