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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

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Millom and District History Group in bid to secure its future

THE high price of petrol is one of the reasons a community history group is facing closure, according to its treasurer.

Millom and District History Group, which meets at Millom Methodist Church, Queen Street, has been running for decades in the town but is struggling to stay afloat due to the rising costs of hiring new speakers and a fall in membership.

Jane Micklethwaite, 49, treasurer of the MDHC, says the group had always usually operated with a surplus, but hard times had led to increased expenses.

She said: “In the past we have had guest speakers come from around Cumbria, but it is quite a long journey and the price of petrol has shot up.

“We used to be able to pay speakers around £15 to £20 a time but recently it’s gone up to £40, £50 or £60 and it’s eating into our surplus.”

A leaflet circulated among the group’s membership states: “We regret to have to inform members that the cost of paying speakers fees last year exceeded takings.

“Over the years expenses have increased, due to the rising cost of petrol. Also active membership and attendance has declined.”

Mrs Micklethwaite said: “It’s quite an elderly membership and some of our members are getting quite frail, so they can’t come out as much. We have about 15 members now and they really enjoy the meetings. I want to keep it going for as long as I can.”

The group is now on the look-out for new members to secure its future.

“It is a sign of the hard times we are living in, but maybe also people aren’t as interested in local history anymore,” said Mrs Micklethwaite.

Linda Chapples, South Copeland locality manager for Age UK, said: “Social inclusion is very important for people’s general health and wellbeing. Some of the social activities that are still going on in Millom that get people out are important links with their communities.

“With the history group it gives older people the opportunity to reminisce and socialise.”

The future of the club will be discussed at its annual general meeting on Friday.

Membership of the group costs £2.50 per meeting and anyone interested in joining should call Mrs Micklethwaite on 01229 772055.

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