Golden Friendships founder Jim McLaren says “We believe this is the first in the world?”. The Clydebank charity set up 6 years ago by former taxi driver and local karaoke star as one half of The Karaoke Clowns has gone from 23 members on the first day to hosting up to 1,000 people using their facilities weekly. People with special needs and elderly previously isolated in their homes and struggling with loneliness suddenly had a place to go, enjoy the entertainment and most importantly enjoy the company of new friends in a safe environment.
But there is a ground-breaking launch happening with the club this Saturday 22nd April when Michelle McManus, Jackie Bird, and John Beattie with his Band and Anita Manning come out to support the club’s latest initiative. The Golden Friendships Club at Nairn Place, Clydebank has had an incredible journey since that first day. The club has gone from renting a hall in the run-down Masonic Lodge, to raising the money through members and local businesses to buy the building, and then give it a complete renovation creating two new halls to put on entertainment and activities from knit and natter to karaoke to theatre and live music. But just having a hall wasn’t enough for Jim McLaren and his family (literally his family: wife Karen, son Bobby, mother Agnes, and his Aunt Molly) and the many helpers; could they adapt their venue to accommodate up to 50 wheelchair users with carers for an evening’s entertainment with fully accessible toilets? Forget your red-carpet nights, this is the birth of The Red Ramp Events!
”We believe this is the first in the world.Jim McLarenGolden Friendships
Over lockdown the charity defied the odds and raised enough money helped by a lot of goodwill from local tradespeople to complete a full refurbishment with industrial kitchen, bar (with specially lowered counter for wheelchair users), and five accessible toilet areas including a changing room with full hoist and pulley system. As Jim says “it’s not a night out if you can’t go to the toilet comfortably”. Builder Paul Neeson was in charge of the project and says “once you’re in the building you are completely on the flat with only 1 or 2mm difference”. It is a dream come true for wheelchair users Jackie and Margaret Maceira from Clydebank who have been regulars at the club over the 6 years and were the main disability consultants. Margaret says “it makes us feel like we’re part of society. Golden Friendships is like a family, on a massive scale”. So as the red carpet goes down this Saturday 22nd April for the inaugural Red Ramp Event, Jim McLaren’s dream will become a reality and he’ll be able to thank all the people that helped it happen. The entertainment will be provided by singer Michelle McManus, broadcaster John Beattie is bringing has band with guest vocalist Jackie Bird and Bargain Hunt’s Anita Manning will be doing the auction of especially donated items.
Glasgow based TV company Demus Productions have been filming the progress of Golden Friendships for the past five years for a documentary. The end of their film will be this inaugural Red Ramp night. This event is the first of many already in the diary over the coming months, where wheelchair users can come and let their hair down and enjoy a great night out in comfort. The Golden Friendships story is a real story of one man’s dream fulfilled by a whole community coming together during a difficult time to help the most in need.