A HELENSBURGH community group has been looking back on eight years of offering events and activities for the town’s older residents.

The Grey Matters Active Ageing group, which became a registered charity last November, has developed into a vital information hub for over-60s since its launch in 2012.

Formed in response to the void in weekend groups and services for older people in the Helensburgh and Lomond area, Grey Matters has grown from a handful of members attending each week to packing out the Guide Hall in John Street every Saturday, with more than 250 people attending associated events since April 2012.

Included in the regular sessions on offer are a knitting bee group, an arts and crafts club, the Local Vocals singing group, and the Game On games club.

READ MORE: Grey Matters set to go global with Easter bonnet parade

And although the coronavirus pandemic has temporarily put a halt to meet-ups, it hasn’t stopped members from keeping in touch with each other.

Group co-ordinator Alison Gildea said: “Before lockdown, a buddy system was suggested, and peer-to-peer support within the group is amazing with members regularly checking in on each other and sharing information.

“The use of technology has been helpful, with many keeping in touch via Skype or joining in on the weekly Zoom meetings.

“Facebook has also been an excellent platform for the group during lockdown, with weekly art challenges and projects, ideas for keeping busy and plenty of photographs to lighten the mood.

READ MORE: Grey Matters secures £2,500 share of 'supporting communities' cash

“They have had a community Easter bonnet challenge and in the coming weeks there will be gardening challenges and even a ‘cake off’.

“The board are also looking to the future when the coronavirus pandemic is over and we will need to support each other to get back to normal.”

Among the highlights of the past eight years for Alison are the many local and national consultations which the group has been involved in, acting as a sounding board for organisations such as NHS 24 and the Scottish Government.

They were also winners of a prestigious Age Scotland Award in 2017 for their campaigning and influencing and Alison’s own influence on the success of the group has not gone unnoticed.

READ MORE: Grey Matters launches new games club for Helensburgh's over-60s

Board member Linda O’Connor said: “Grey Matters saved my life in so many ways. It gave me an extended family with people who look after your best interests and have brought such happiness to my life.

“It gave me the confidence to try lots of things I would never have attempted and I found that I have a few hidden talents.

“Thanks Grey Matters, and our wonderful Alison – without her we would not exist!”

READ MORE: Catch up with all the latest Helensburgh and Lomond news stories here