An update from the Countrymen’s club, Rylands farm, Dorset on how we have kept calm and carried on!
We have all experienced a very difficult and challenging year. We closed during the first lockdown back in March but kept in constant touch with the group through telephone calls and deliveries. Most notably on May 8th, which marked the 75th anniversary of D day, we were able to send out two volunteers with their vintage tractors, decorated in flags to deliver cakes (thank you Waitrose!) to the delight some of our more local members.
Many of the conversations were hard. Carers and wives had lost their chance of a little respite as well as the countrymen. It had a huge impact on everyone involved.
When restrictions eased, we were able to reopen the group with very small groups. The result of this was profound. The impact was immediate and long lasting. We had got them back! Soon they were back feeding and caring for the animals, working on woodwork projects and playing skittles and outdoor games.
Many things have changed. We now wear masks, have hand gel stations and we are constantly disinfecting and wiping down surfaces. We take our temperatures before going to work and we do our absolute best to ensure the safety of the group.
One of the biggest changes was the provision of food. Before, we were able to give the men a hot nourishing meal before their session. Now we can only provide tea and cakes. All of the group have understood the changes and are just glad to be back.
In the summer we invited group members and their wives or carers in two by two. We provided cream teas on disposable plates and gave the families a chance to talk through face to face the challenges that they had. Liz, the chair of the board of trustees attended to offer professional help and guidance whilst the men enjoyed a trip around the farm.
Christmas was a more muted affair than the usual Christmas party. Gone were the big groups and carol singing, but our small groups still managed to enjoy a mince pie and raise a mug to a brighter future. Many of those living in care facilities were again unable to attend, but everyone had a delivery of Christmas goodies to keep them going and to reassure them that they hadn’t been forgotten.
We are incredibly lucky to have the support of so many in the local community.
Throughout the lockdown we have had very generous donations which have certainly lifted the mood. Here are a few local companies who have gone the extra mile.
Dorset blue Vinny cheese company provided us with a huge lump if their superb cheese along with some very tasty chutney which the men enjoyed sat under the trees on a summer’s day.
Penny Fudge from Percy’s bakery kept us going all summer with a box of their scrummy chocolate chip cookies.
House of Dorchester chocolate company provided wonderful little packs of exquisite chocolates for the carers to give them a little treat.
Waitrose were supportive as ever and gave us some tasty cakes to hand out for VE day.
Wyke farms provided a block of their tasty cheddar for every countryman as part of their Christmas box.
More recently we were approached by a local fish and chip shop and Nicki and her team from Something else fishy in Milborne Port provided us with enough sausage and chips for everyone on site! It was a wonderful and generous gesture and we all thoroughly enjoyed a special treat on a cold and damp January afternoon!
These gestures have a massive impact and help to renew our drive to provide opportunities for men who may feel lonely or isolated or who simply would enjoy getting back outside in a friendly club.
Finally, we want to say a huge thankyou to all our volunteers. We couldn’t run such a successful club without you. Thank you for keeping in touch when you couldn’t get in and thank you for providing articles for our newsletter or Facebook page as well. We hope to see you all again very soon
Nick went above and beyond by creating a Countrymen’s calendar for the group. He funded it himself by selling off old machinery in a farm auction back in the autumn. His efforts will bring a smile to so many faces throughout the year. Thank you, Nick!
We are always willing to have an informal chat if you know someone who you feel could benefit from joining the Countrymen’s club, Dorset or if you would are able to support us in any way.
Please ring the office on Tuesdays or Thursdays on 01963 210789 or email [email protected]. Thank you!