Heathfield’s Young at Heart celebrates four glorious years!

19th May

Craft activites from Cherry Spring Studios

Today 19th May, Young at Heart celebrated their anniversary! This local club offers valuable companionship and stimulation for elderly residents who may suffer from demetia or loneliness. The club is the realisation of Rachel’s dream of creating a meaningful experience for both the young and the elderly.

Four years ago, inspired by her years as a carer, Rachel, mum to four, decided to combine ‘Old People’s Home for Four Year Olds’ with primary school aged children to create Young at Heart. A sympathetic mix of the young and old embodied in a day club activity.

Activities bring young and old together – plus lambs!

Rachel found getting support a challenge, whilst Age UK were initially enthusiastic it was actually local businessman Rob Laughton who stepped up and her friend Margaret Monk whose enthusiasm helped to propel the concept into a reality.

Finding the Heathfield Cricket Club for the club’s home was a breakthrough moment, the perfect base and luckily close to All Saints and St Richard’s allowing an enduring partnership with the primary school, which now includes seven schools and Little Tinkers PreSchool.

“Rob’s business advice, planning and support were invaluable and resulted in the creation of the club as a not-for-profit organisation.” Rachel Gibson, Founder, Young at Heart, commented.

A typical day at the club involves care from 10am-3.30pm for adults who can be independent and if not their carers can attend for free if support is needed. Activities always include delicious home cooked food, the musically talented Angela Brooks and her Cake and Wine Club Choir bring an injection of singing and dancing, Bernard and his accordian is always a highlight and there are craft activities from Cherry Spring Studios, QuiGong movement, and then lots of games and reading with the children rounded off with cake! On a good day, lots of it takes place outside the cricket clubhouse in the open air.

Tough Times

The pandemic threw up a multitute of challenges and amplified feelings of isolation and loneliness. The club couldn’t open, but with a bit of creativity and tons of support they adapted and took what they could to members’ doorsteps.” Amazingly, Heathfield Community College loaned iPads to keep the club going over lockdown, and they were able to give members ipads to keep connected and ran Zoom baking classes with doorstep drop offs of the ingredients, Cake & Wine sing-a-longs and virtual bingo. All of which ensured their members felt included and connected to the community at a time when especially the vulnerable were very isolated. Some distancing has endured so although everyone is back in the cricket club there some limitations.

Future Events

28 May 2022 – Young at Heart will be at Heathfield Agricultural Show with a stand – look out for their entry in the Sustainable Futures Award – fully recyclable bunting made by local schools!

2 June 2022 – Young at Heart will be celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee with a day of cricket at Heathfield Cricket Pavilion with cake and a BBQ topped off with entertainment for all members and their families.

There is always cake at Young at Heart

Special thanks

Rachel would like to emphasize that the club is a huge collaboration of people, businesses and organisation and would like to thank:

Age Concern for their amazing gift of a minibus which allows the group to go on day trips and travel out of Heathfield to visit some of the participating primary schools for example.

Angela Brookes & the Cake and Wine Club Choir for their inspirational singing.

Cherry Spring Craft for the super creative crafts they bring to the sessions

Rowana Mladek for her calming Qui Gong

Little Tinkers Nursery for their youthful exhuberance

Participating primary schools: Dallington CEP, Parkside, Bedes, Skippers, Punnetts Town, All Saints & St Richards, Maynards Green

Sponsors; Wealden Funeral Services, Horam and Vines Cross Diary, Wealden Action Dementia Alliance, Trevaskis Consulting and Sussex Express

Young at Heart is keen to welcome new members and extend their club days from the two they currently run. It costs £50 for the day, with carers free, if needed. It is possible to get adult social care funding and support, GPs can socially prescribe and there is some flexibilty, but the best route is to call Rachel and have a chat, she can advise on all options: 07971032667

Fun whatever the weather!