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  1. ITV Report

Lack of public transport blamed for rural loneliness

Members of the Countrymen's Club at their end-of-session singalong. Photo: ITV

A lack of public transport in rural areas is making life lonely for elderly people. That's according to members of the Countrymen's Club, a hands-on social group for older men which meets each week at Rylands Farm near Sherborne, Dorset.

Each club meeting ends with a singalong. Credit: ITV

Most Countrymen's Club members can't drive and rely on lifts from others to attend.

"If you don't drive, you're stuck. There's no bus service, no shop, no pubs. You've got to get into a car to get anywhere."

– Charlie, aged 81, retired farmer

"There's no bus service at all where we live. My husband has found it really hard to surrender his driving licence, particularly as he's been a tractor driver all his life."

– Rose, wife of a club member

Many of the Countrymen's Club members are retired farmers, enjoying a trip down memory lane, and the chance to socialise with like-minded people.

Club members help out with farm work, including woodwork, maintenance and animal husbandry. They also have a singalong at the end of each session.

"This is a good club because you don't just go to a village hall and have a cup of tea and piece of cake. You come here and you do something, which is great. It really makes you think you're worthwhile. I don't know what I'd do without it."

– Dan, aged 81, Countrymen's Club member and retired farm worker
Pigs awaiting dinner at Rylands Farm. Credit: ITV

A poll by the charity Age UK found that nearly one in four people aged 60 and over who live in rural parts of England say lack of public transport is the biggest challenge they face living in the countryside.

"Lack of transport is a major issue. We've just been told that in Yetminster - a village up the road - the one bus service a day is going to be cut. Well my mother-in-law, who can't drive, would be truly isolated if she didn't have us nearby."

– Julie Plumley, Countrymen's Club organiser

The Countrymen's Club is run by Future Roots, a not-for-profit company which uses hands-on rural activity to help improve mental health. It works with children at risk of school exclusion, adults with learning disabilities, elderly people, and others.

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