Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - OPINION -

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.

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