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Dee for Dorchester

By Dadcock  |  Posted: March 17, 2014

Donna Sibley of Julia's House and Odeon Dorchester general manager Alan Escott

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Free Time

The funny thing about a peek at the old days is that sometimes you find ghosts of your own life looking back.

The Free Time exhibition at Dorset County Museum invites everyone to take a stroll down Memory Lane to look at leisure then – 60 years ago – until now.

The exhibition is a showcase for a project initiated by the charity digital:works and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund with input from organisations including the Thomas Hardye School in Dorchester, Age UK, POPP, U3A and Dorset History Centre as well as the museum itself.

Drawing on memories and stories of local people it captures the hobbies and leisure activities enjoyed in the not-so-distant past.

The result is a wonderful mix, rich in nostalgia as it evokes childhoods and happy days back through the decades.

It is guaranteed to prompt no end of people to remark “I used to have one of those” or “I remember that”.

“I used to have a doll like that in a dress exactly the same,” I told my husband, but he was too busy trying to drive a Scalextric car on a track like the one my nephew used to own.

There are old cameras and a reel to reel tape recorder – remember those? – and a go-cart and the most fabulous juke-box with the names of records by the likes of Elvis and Chubby Checker and The Beatles, ready to transport people of a certain age back to when all these things were as fresh as paint.

There are books and annuals and train sets and board games and quaint old computer consoles with joysticks, knitting patterns and a toy sewing machine and a BMX bike and skateboards and much more.

What busy bees we all were then and, in different ways, still are now. And how we liked to be outdoors birdwatching or hiking or packing ourselves onto Weymouth beach with everybody else or enjoying carnivals – the photos are there as proof.

It is a glorious evocation of the way we, and the generations before and after us, spent precious free time. It continues until 17th May and admission is free – though do pay for a full ticket and spend an hour or two exploring the rest of this excellent museum.

Cinema charity

Odeon Dorchester is raising money for Julia’s House after choosing it as its charity of the year.

The Brewery Square cinema will be holding bucket collections and charity screenings as part of its effort to raise money for the children’s hospice.

Alan Escott, general manager of Odeon Dorchester, said: “With the help of our cinema-goers, we aim to work closely with the charity over the course of this year to generate as many funds and as much awareness as possible the support the amazing work the charity undertakes.

“We are delighted to be able to assist the charity in their crucial work.”

Also delighted with the arrangement is Lin Hudswell, community fundraising manager at Julia’s House.

She said: “It’s thanks to the fantastic support of companies like Odeon Dorchester that we continue to provide practical and emotional support to around 100 children in Dorset a year.”

Elton John makes a live appearance at Odeon Dorchester on Saturday, 22nd March – in a screened presentation of his Million Dollar Piano concert from Las Vegas.

The specially-created state-of-the-art piano sounds as though it has to be seen to be believed – it is adorned with 60 video screens showing images to accompany Elton as he accompanies himself to perform his greatest hit songs.

Age UK advice

Age UK Dorchester is looking for experienced welfare benefits volunteers to join its team providing information and advice to older people in North Dorset through home visits.

Janice Webb would love to hear from anyone who has the experience and some spare time and would like to help identify clients’ entitlement to benefits and give them a hand obtaining what is due to them.

Volunteers should contact Janice on 01305 269444 to find out more about getting involved.

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