Ex-volunteers of a charity for young adults with learning disabilities are trying to relaunch the much-needed club after it closed during the pandemic.

The Fourteen Club was established in 1973, it operated in Wantage and the surrounding area at the Fitzwaryn School and offered young adults with learning disabilities social activities.

However, in September 2021, the club officially closed, and now ex-volunteers are looking for a new group of committee members who have the time and energy to relaunch the club.

The club welcomed people from the age of 14 and up, and until the start of the pandemic it fulfilled an important role within the community.

Every Monday evening the group would meet to enjoy planned activities including sports, entertainers, discos, bingo nights and even trips to the pub.

Herald Series: Wantage Fourteen Club bingo night

When the Fourteen Club first started the group also organised day trips to the seaside, the panto and weekend trips to Oxford activity centre Hill End.

Liz MacDonald was one of the 50 volunteer drivers for the charity who took members to and from the club.

She explained that people "just loved it" she said: “The Fourteen Club was so wonderful because they used to organise so may engaging things on a Monday evening for them, it was a chance for everybody to get together. Whereas now, they will not be getting together the same amount.”

The primary aim of the Fourteen Club was to provide social activities for its members, but it was also there to give parents and guardians a break.

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Mrs MacDonald is concerned that funding cuts over the pandemic has increased the need for support and clubs for people with learning disabilities.

She added: "Without this band of generous and committed people, the club would not have functioned. I was a volunteer driver and I saw first-hand the positive effects of what this charity brought to members."

Sarah, 48 used to attend the Fourteen Club and she has been living in sheltered accommodation for several years in Wantage.

She said: “I really miss seeing my friends every week. We played a lot of fun games and the staff who ran it were great.”

Sarah’s mum Merle said: “It was wonderful, Sarah was collected and had fun in a safe place, plus it was an evening off for us.”

Eileen Sykes is the Bandmaster of the Wantage Silver Band and every Christmas the band went to the Fourteen Club meeting to play Christmas music. Mrs Sykes would also like to see the club running again.

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She said: "We always enjoyed the event. It was a wonderful club, and I would love to see it reformed."

Wantage Mayor Jim Sibbald admired the work of the Fourteen Club. He said: "The council would be delighted to support these learning clubs."

He added: "Having a club that would actually help people who have got learning disabilities with social engagement would be excellent. I think what they are trying to do is admirable and I hope that they succeed."

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