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Volunteers from Blanchards Bailey help transform charity centre

Staff from Dorchester based charity Age UK were left thrilled after volunteers from Blanchards Bailey rolled up their sleeves to help transform the charity’s community centre.

The legal firm sent a five-strong team to Rowan Cottage Social Club to support its charity of the year Age UK Dorchester - an independent local charity which helps older people across rural Dorset to maintain physical and mental wellbeing.

Solicitors from Blanchards Bailey were not afraid to get their hands dirty as they enthusiastically set about renovating the social club with other volunteers, led by handyman Chris Rawlings. Racing against the clock to make sure the makeover was ready for Monday, the volunteers worked tirelessly from Wednesday through to Saturday to complete their tasks.

Work included painting the skirting boards and walls after knocking down a wall to create a new room, putting up shelves, emptying the social club, taking down blinds, removing a radiator, installing new light fittings and electrics, as well as ripping up the carpet and replacing it with a new one. Finishing touches were then applied including putting up curtains, lamp shades and specialist dementia friendly equipment.

The centre now has a beautiful fresh ambiance with a light, clean and spacious feel against the backdrop of relaxing light blue walls. The renovation represents the start of work set to be undertaken at the centre.

The social club is used by members of the community who need company or for those who need a break from caring for family members, as well as providing activities such as singing, arts and crafts. Blanchards Bailey solicitor Cordelia English also runs her legal advice clinics for the elderly at the club, which led to the legal firm organising and funding the makeover.

Lisa Holmes, Head of Care and Support at Age UK Dorchester, said: “We are all absolutely delighted with how the renovation work has turned out - it is even better than we expected. We are so grateful to everyone who gave up their time and volunteered, including the Blanchards Bailey team, as well as Chris Rawlings and his helpers.

“It looks fabulous and everyone is so happy with what has been done and most importantly it is benefitting people that come to the centre. One of our clients who has sight loss said that because of all the natural daylight there now is, he can see so much better. This has made a huge difference to him which is great.”

Senior Associate at Blanchards Bailey, Ian Campbell, said: “It was great to be part of such a rewarding project that makes a big difference to the lives of elderly people in the area. Everyone had fun mucking in to help get the work done. We are delighted with how it looks so far. We hope this will help make it a place where people enjoy coming and socialising.”

Chris Rawlings added: “It was an honour to help out with such a worthy cause. Everyone needs support at some point in their lives so it was nice to give a helping hand to the charity, which does such good work in the community. Everyone had a brilliant time.”

This is just the start of fundraising activities Blanchards Bailey plans on carrying out throughout the year for Age UK Dorchester including Rollapaluza, a static bike race in October, and a decorating event for staff, amongst other things.

People who donated their time and materials included Martin Cull, Richard Downton, Nick House, Ben Wain (Casterbridge Electricians), Leon Cooper (On all Floors), Dan Dorton (Knighton Plumbing and Heating), as well as builders merchant Jewson.