GATEWAY CLUB GOES GOLDEN
TREVOR MILNER MBE Chilterns Gateway Club leader
DO you remember when England won the FIFA World Club? Yes, it was in 1966 some 50 years ago.
In that same year a small club started up in this area specifically for people with a learning disability.
In those days of the 60s there was no national provision to educate those with a learning disability.
There were no social activities for them. A group of parents started a youth club for their children.
This was inaugurated in April 1966 and was given the name Chilterns Gateway Club.
The club grew out of the premises in Chesham and moved to Chiltern Youth Centre in 1974 and it has operated there ever since.
The club now boasts a membership of 75 adults with a learning disability together with about 25 volunteer helpers.
The club has organised annual holidays for its membership since 1969 and next August will be the 48th consecutive holiday.
It will be spent on a holiday park near Poole.
What a remarkable achievement by a group which is completely voluntary and raises every penny from fundraising or direct subscription from its membership – a very proud achievement.
In the past the club has been involved in hundreds of activities but possible highlights include:
Attending the Special Commemorative Service at St Paul’s Cathedral for the 50th Anniversary of King George’s Jubilee Trust in 1985.
Recognition in The Queen’s Millennium Honours List 2000.
Formal presentation to the Duke of Edinburgh in 2008 at Woodrow High House Amersham
Group Award Win- ner in Chiltern District Council Community Awards 2009.
Mencap Volunteer Award Winner in 2011.
Offering facilities for many young people to do their Duke of Edinburgh Award.
Individual recognition for local young people who give up their time for the community.
Over those 50 years the volunteers have, between them, clocked up an amazing 150,000 hours of service.
The Club is very proud of its achievements – many have gone un-noticed.
The club held its 50th Anniversary Celebrations Party at Amersham Community Centre on Saturday May 14 where more than 150 people associated with the club gathered together for a celebratory meal and disco.
In September the club celebrated again at The Beacon School when they held a special tea for some of the older members and associates entertained by a tribute singer to remind them of the past 50 years.
The world is a very different place than it was in those early days of the Club in 1966.
Those with a learning disability have moved forward.
Some will be seen working in main stream jobs, others will attend college and many more will work within the voluntary sector.
They are slowly being given the respect and dignity they have always deserved.
May this continue at a more rapid pace and hopefully those of your readers who may not come into daily contact with any disabled person will now be aware of this very special Club – on their doorsteps.