HRH The Duchess of Cornwall visits Royal Voluntary Service CentreRoyal Voluntary Service welcomed its President, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, to its Cornhill Centre in Banbury today to hear more about the vital support it provides local older people.

The centre, which offers a range of services and activities supported by more than 80 volunteers, is a lifeline to older people in the local community who use it. The weekly programme of social activities that take place include art and crafts groups, gentle exercise classes, dancing and music. Also run by volunteers from the centre is a Community Companions service, which matches older people with a companion, and a transport scheme to help locals get out and about to social or medical appointments.

Many of the clubs and services that help older people stay active and connected to their communities, are supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery which has also helped the charity develop its extensive network of volunteer led activities across the country.

At the Centre, The Duchess of Cornwall watched the weekly International Dance Club perform a dance and met the volunteers who run the popular class, Avis Gallager (72 years old) and Joan Sprittlehouse (82 years old).

"It was fantastic to give The Duchess of Cornwall a flavor of the fun we have in class. I thoroughly enjoy running the dance club and get as much out of it as the people who attend. It’s wonderful to watch their enjoyment and know how important it is to them – for many it’s the highlight of their week."

Royal Voluntary Service volunteer, Avis Gallager

The International Dance Club, which started in 2004, is one of the Centre’s most popular classes. Each week an average 25 older people attend the class and take part in a range of international dances. The classes are vital for the health and wellbeing of older people, encouraging them to stay active and to socialise at least once a week.

"Our Cornhill Centre is always a hive of activity and it was fantastic to be able to show our President, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, just why it’s so popular with the local community. Staying active and maintaining social connections are vital to ageing well. Our Centre provides a vast array of options for older people to come together, to take part in an activity of interest to them and connect with others, at the same time as maintaining or improving their own fitness."

Catherine Johnstone CBE, Chief Executive of Royal Voluntary Service

"It was great to meet Royal Voluntary Service volunteers again and get a flavour of the fantastic activities that are run from the Centre. We are delighted players of People’s Postcode Lottery are able to support Royal Voluntary Service develop its network of volunteer led activities. The clubs and groups that take place at the Cornhill Centre and those run across the country, really are priceless as they enable people as they age to stay not only active but also connected to their communities."

Hazel Johnstone, Senior Programmes Manager, at People’s Postcode Lottery

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall visits Royal Voluntary Service Centre
HRH The Duchess of Cornwall also met two of the charity’s youngest volunteers, Amelia (7) and her brother Bobby (5), who have been volunteering at the Cornhill Centre for the last two years with their mother, Stephanie Gourley (28).

Stephanie volunteered with Bobby every Friday until he started school in September and with Amelia in the holidays, because she wanted to do something different with the children. She has seen the children benefit as a result; Amelia growing in confidence and Bobby, who is more naturally boisterous, able to channel his energy into singing for the Centre attendees and playing his guitar.

"It’s nice to do something different with the children and it has taught them so much about life. By spending time with older people and facilitating activities, they have learned a different way of interacting with people and that not everything revolves around children! They have learned patience, listening skills, grown in confidence and formed strong cross-generational bonds. It’s such a different environment to what the children are used to when we attend the normal children-only groups."

Royal Voluntary Service volunteer, Stephanie Gourley

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