Taking tea in St Andrews is not, perhaps, an unusual event.
But for a group of elderly people in the town, the monthly tea party organised by Contact the Elderly is more than just a social event, it’s a great opportunity to get out of the house and socialise.
One Sunday afternoon a month, one of the charity’s volunteers opens their home to host a tea party for around six elderly people, along with the volunteer drivers who provide the transport.
It’s a different host each month but the drivers remain the same, which means that, over the months and years, acquaintances turn into friends and loneliness is replaced by companionship.
Contact the Elderly has two groups in Fife and in St Andrews they go by the name the Jolly Fifers.
Louise Hughes is one of the hosts and she said the group is not called the Jolly Fifers for nothing, as she recalled some of the characters who had been members: “One gentleman, Andy, had a wicked sense of humour and had spent his early life in France – he would have us all in stitches with his tales. We have had some real characters, all of them had led incredibly interesting lives, mostly through the war, and all had wonderful stories to share.”
Louise started her connection with Contact the Elderly as a driver, but is now a host, and she has seen the benefits from both sides: “My mother was a driver too but she has become one of the lucky Jolly Fifers guests. She is collected and driven to the afternoon tea and brought home safe and sound each month and thoroughly enjoys the company and, of course, all the delicious baking.”
Louise explained her hosting role: “As a host, we receive an email the week before the Sunday to let us know numbers and then all we need to do is bake and enjoy the company. A downstairs toilet is required and the fewer stairs the better but, apart from that, anyone with a bit of spare time on a Sunday once or twice a year can apply.”
Maggie Taylor is a driver – and she loves it, stressing: “It’s a two-way street – we get as much enjoyment out of listening to the guests as they get from being out on a Sunday afternoon, which is such a lonely time for so many people.”
Find out more by contacting the organisation’s Morna May on 01786 871264 or by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org