Famously, the Military Wives Choir began with Gareth Malone persuading a number of women who had never really sung before to give it a go! One of our new Committee Members waved a piece of paper about WiTunes, a singing group that came together as ‘inexperienced but enthusiastic’ singers nine years and they’re still going strong. Well now!…The SDSAF Choir? An interesting idea!
Are you aware of the Campaign to End Loneliness? Latest research says that 17% of people are in touch with family, friends, or neighbours less than once a week and 11% less than once a month. 51% of over 75s live alone and 40% of older people say that the television is their only company.
Isolation like this is worse for our health than obesity and physical inactivity. If you would like to know more including how you can help ring 020 7012 1409 or see the website above. Have you thought about volunteering?

The Sevenoaks Volunteer Bureau has been in touch. They have a campaign running from the 16th to the 21st of November promoting volunteering opportunities to/for older men. Members who attend SDSAF meetings will have heard from several speakers over recent times that there is an increasing shortage of volunteers of all sorts. Theories abound that this may be to do with the lifting of the retirement age but also perhaps because people may not know just how useful they can be! Sevenoaks Volunteers are on 01 892 530 330. North West Kent Volunteers are on 01 322 272 476. You can make a difference.
If you would like to meet Cassie Callaghan from the Sevenoaks Volunteer Bureau, she’s coming along to our meeting at Westerham.
Just had a call, interrupting my typing of this newsletter, from Michael who asked me how I was. How polite. He told me he was calling about my computer and that it might have a virus on it, how polite, and could he help. I thought I should be polite too and courteously asked him (honestly, I was very well mannered!) if he was a scammer or just a thief and he rang off! What did I do wrong!

The next Members’ Meeting will be held at Westerham Hall, Quebec Avenue, Westerham, TN16 1BG. Guest speaker Tony Searles will talk on Dementia. 20th November at 10 am.
Second Chance Animal Rescue in Crockenhill suffered a devastating arson attack in October ( The volunteers there are looking for help to replace their burned out buildings. Sainsbury’s in Orpington have now made them their charity of the year. For more info or an appointment to speak to someone call 07804 026 773. SCAR is quite hard to find, and therefore has to have been the subject of a deliberate attack.
We had about 640 members at our AGM in late May and with one major recruiting event to come, the switching on of the Sevenoaks lights on the 27th of November, we stand around 200 stronger with some 831 colleagues. Perhaps we can get to 850 by Christmas and maybe a thousand for the 2016 AGM.
2016 AGM The 2016 AGM is scheduled to take place in Swanley in late May 2016. SDSAF Members present at the Town Meeting in Swanley held recently will know that on behalf of older people in Swanley who seem to run most of the community organisations and our 120 plus Swanley Members, I suggested that the Town Council might reconsider their decision to impose huge increases in room booking fees on local community organisations. I emailed the Chief Executive to ask if any further decision has been made but no further information on my proposal was available at the time of printing.
In case you were wondering, Geoff Parsons continues to beaver away at the Defibrillator Project and his knowledge of where defibs are increases by the week. One or two other organisations are also mapping their location and if you find one in our area that has been recently commissioned, do let us know so that we can check that that knowledge is being shared.
Members will no doubt know that up to £85,000 of their savings are currently protected if there were to be another bank meltdown but remember that from January this figure will reduce to £75,000. This subject is more complicated than we have room for here so the best advice is to go to your bank or building society and check what this change might mean for you. Some banks seem to be quite separate business from other banks but they may not be because some are owned by the same parent company. Depending on exactly how those banks are related to each other, you may not be properly covered by the £75,000 guarantee. Please check!
I couldn’t help but notice that LIVE ON backwards says NO EVIL.
West Kent Mind are asking people to join them to ‘raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing, raise funds and to have some fun too’. They have lots of tips and ideas on their website for example if you are holding or attending a Christmas party perhaps you could have a raffle for Piece of Mind or include some games as a fundraiser. Contact Jill Roberts the CEO of MiND on 01732 744 950.
Piece of Mind – what a brilliant expression!
This sad story is difficult to grasp clearly as the media seems to take a political stance on almost everything and so the truths and realities can be very hard to get to. What is definitely true is that not all hospitals make a charge. Hospital authorities choose to make a charge. Across the country this is said to pull in millions for the NHS but where the car park is not owned by the hospital, the millions seem to go to private companies. We also know that our local hospitals charge for parking – and it’s not cheap.
We are still keen on SDSAF local groups. These groups can pull in local information from the towns and villages and can give an opportunity for SDSAF Members to get to know each other and perhaps work together. Contact any of the committee if you would like to offer.
Do Members use these? We have been having a little discussion lately as to whether we need to use our accounts with these two – yes we have them! We’ve never really had much feedback on them so we’re not sure whether we should maintain them. Any thoughts? If we want them, we certainly should use them more.
HIM Darling! Have you changed the password on the
computer? I’ve spent ages here trying to get in and I
can’t get in and I’m REALLY busy!

HER Oh yes! Sorry, I meant to tell you.

HIM What’s the new password please? I’m REALLY, REALLY,
BUSY! Do give me a clue!

HER It’s the date when we first met!

HIM (Some hours later) *”!^*+***




To improve



The Age Action Alliance links together many groups that support older people.  Their website is . Safety at home is very important for all of us and there are some straight forward ideas to reduce the chances of an accident at home.

Reduce Trip and Fall Risks        Every minute of the day six older people in the UK fall and hurt themselves.  The Age Action Alliance recommends that;

We should take a few moments to look around the house for possible risks like trailing cables and loose rugs.

We should be careful not to have loose footwear especially on the stairs.


Make Sure You Can Be Heard   If you are on your own, get yourself a personal alarm, or an intercom, or a phone that you can carry in your pocket so you can just press a button to get help.

Check Your Locks  Make sure that your door and window locks are in good condition.  Make sure that a TRUSTED FRIEND has a spare key and DON’T open the door to strangers. If you have a suspicion about a caller, phone your trusted friend.

FireFire is a killer.  Have a smoke alarm installed.  Think about how you would get away from a fire in any room in your house.  Phone your local Fire Brigade for advice.  They will send someone to your home to give you advice. Have your trusted friend with you when they visit.

Stay Active         The fitter you are, the better you will prevent falls and problems.


Based on



will be held at OTFORD VILLAGE HALL

on Friday, 18th September 2015

Committee Meeting at 9.30  Members Discussions from 11-12 

Members are welcome to attend the business part of the Committee meeting if they wish and are invited to share and discuss their concerns from 11 am.  Parking is free for 1 hour!


Membership 802 (August 1st) and rising . . . 

At this time last year we had less than 500 Members! Thank you everyone.  We started our official year (after the AGM in May) with some 640 members.  By August 1st that had risen to 802. One thousand is now in sight.  Now… if every Member recruited one new Member…!   Come on, let’s do it!

2015 AGM      Mark Whyman from AGE UK Sevenoaks and Tonbridge gave an interesting talk about his work and the work of AGE UK stressing the importance of volunteer helpers and describing many of the services AGE UK provides.

AGE UK is one of the very best resources for advice that older people have.  SDSAF constantly uses the advice they give in our discussions with older people and in our searches for advice.

The Chairman of SDSAF, Frank McConnell, described the way SDSAF had grown over the best 12 months and how decision makers around the area were getting to know who we are.  He hoped that we would continue to grow and reported on some of the ways we have increased our influence.  The biggest influence we have is the continued growth in our membership.  Over 50s vote and decision makers know that.

The Committee was re-elected en bloc with the Chairman, Vice Chairmen, Treasurer, Secretaries and Committee Members remaining in their current positions.  The resignation of Geoff Parsons from the Committee was accepted with regret and Geoff’s work for SDSAF was noted with gratitude.

2015 MEMBER SURVEYWork on the analysis of the Members Survey is continuingwith Vice Chairman Steve Plater taking the lead.  Members contributed a huge amount of data with over 3000 comments on concerns being sorted.

HOSPITAL PARKING Members who need to use Darent Valley Hospital (DVH) may know that Vinci Park, the company which runs the car parks at the hospital, has increased prices, some by 50%.  The hospital tells me that an extra 101 places have been made available ‘entirely funded by Vinci Park’ although it seems to me that it is the public who are paying for this. They say ‘the extra spaces are helping to reduce queuing considerably’ but as this is a press release they don’t mention that this is also helping to increase Vinci Park’s profits considerably.  They also say that this is the first price increase since September 2000.

SDSAF has emailed the hospital for clarification on several issues such as who is profiting from visitors to the hospital?  The last time we asked about these matters, it took some 30 emails and phone calls before getting as close as we could to the facts. Before this newsletter goes to print, we would hope that some clarity is delivered but experience says that they don’t want to be clear about this issue as it is a very unpopular tax on people doing the right thing – hospital visiting.  Shown below is a comparison of hospital parking charges:

Up to 30 minutes            DVH            Pembury     Free             Better than DVH

Up to 1 hour                   £1.50                             £2.00                    worse

Up to 2 hours                 £2.50

Up to 3 hours                  £3.00                             £3.00                    same

Up to 4 hours                 £4.00

Up to 5 hours                  £5.00                             £4.00                    better

Up to 6 hours                 £8.00

Up to 24 hours                £10.00                           £6.00          far better than DVH

Weekly                            £32.00

There are certain concessions at Pembury but Blue Badge holders pay the same as all other visitors.  In case you should miss it, that fact is underlined on their website. SDSAF called the Press Office for clarification three times leaving two messages before getting through to the Press Officer himself by speaking to the Chief Executive’s office. He tells us that concessions may be available in case of hardship.

There has been so much fuss across the country over hospital car parking charges that the NHS has published national guidelines.  These are useless as over the three pages of the document, the word ‘should’ is used in virtually every paragraph.  The word ‘must’ is never used.  This means that every hospital can ignore the guidelines, as they do not have to comply with them.  Someone in the NHS can of course claim that they have advised the hospitals what they should do and therefore they can wash their hands as the prices charged are not actually their fault: it is the individual hospital that is to blame!  This is the left hand of the NHS avoiding responsibility for the actions of the right hand of the NHS.

Members who use the Internet can see the NHS guidelines at

ELECTIONS 2015    SDSAF Vice Chairman, Merilyn Canet was elected to the Sevenoaks District Council at the recent elections and whilst she will be representing her electorate, SDSAF will have a friend in high places!

LOCAL GROUPS AND EXPERT GROUPS      We are still keen on creating SDSAF local groups around the District.  Would you like to run one?

SENCIO VOUCHER The voucher can be printed out and taken to your local Sencio Leisure Centre so that you can enjoy a free session from the Primetime Programme.  For full details of what that means; PLEASE CHECK THAT THE INTERNET VERSION OF THIS  VOUCHER IS VALID BY CONTACTING Sencio on 01732 470700 for Sevenoaks, 01732 865565 for Edenbridge or 01322 662188 for Swanley.  Stay fit; stay healthy!

Sencio voucherSencio Voucher


70-year-old drivers – Some three months before your seventieth birthday, DVLA will write to remind you that your existing driving licence is due to expire (on the day before your birthday!). It is really very easy to renew your licence for the next three years – you can do it online or by post – and it’s FREE!

There is a small drawback if your licence permits the driving of medium-sized vehicles (C1) and/or minibus (D1) – in order to renew your entitlement(s), you must apply for your renewal by POST only and you will need to complete a medical declaration certified by your GP. It’s a little extra time-consuming!

BEWARE – there are scams about that will try to convince you to renew with them – they may tell you it’s quicker (it isn’t) and they will make a charge. You should not be drawn in, as there is no need, no benefit to you. They just want your money and your personal details.

By the way, the DVLA will NOT contact you by email asking you to verify bank details. It’s a scam. Renew your licence online or by post and over 70s can renew their licence for a further 3 years.

HEALTH WALKS   Do you know that there are Health Walks in Edenbridge, Sevenoaks, Lullingstone Park, Otford, New Ash Green, Hartley, Swanley, and West Kingsdown? These are not mountain climbs and they take less than one hour.  Lots of information is available from the District Council either on their website or from Anton on 01732 227121.  They are always good fun with friendly hospitable people many of whom are giving themselves a little bit of time away from their usual Grandma/Grandpa Duties in the lovely scenery of our beautiful District.
Health Walk Leaders are always needed and the District Council regularly puts on training days, which are free and even include refreshments.  Details from Anton or by email –




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