A CHARITY that helps many older and isolated people in Somerset keep mind and body healthy has been given nearly £7,000, thanks to your County Gazette.

Pro-Active Lifestyle Water Activities Club, known as PALS, has landed £6,872 from the Gannett Foundation, the charitable arm of Gannett, which owns the County Gazette.

The money will be used to replace an ageing hoist used to ease many of the club’s 100 members into the swimming pool at St Audries Holiday Club near Williton.

PALS runs four hourly sessions per week at the pool and provides a trained aquaerobics instructor for each session.

Chairman Peter Wellstood said: “Our current hoist is about to die on us and without a chair it would mean many of our members could not get into the pool.

“The sessions enable them to keep mobile so to be able to have a new hoist is absolutely wonderful.

“Members have been really pleased to hear the news.”

PALS has an increasing membership and is run by volunteers who aim to provide not just exercise but entertainment for members with monthly socials ranging from line dancing to gardening.

About 90% of the club’s members are over 55 and most are female.

The club’s grant application said: “Most of our members have health issues such as cancer or cardiovascular, orthopaedic, digestive or neurological conditions.

“Because there is no similar activity provided in West Somerset many of our members are introduced by doctor referral.

“Our research has shown that PALS has a significant impact on physical health, social well-being and mental health following attendance at the pool sessions.”

County Gazette editor Alex Cameron said: “We’re delighted PALS was successful in its application. The activities provided by the club are a lifeline in so many different ways to its many members and we know they will put the money to good use.”

PALS also needs volunteer drivers and is on the lookout for someone to help with co-ordinating the group.

If you can help, or would like to join the group, you can contact chairman Peter Wellstood on 01643-863544 or vice-chair Joyce Fisher on 01984-631515 or email info@palswac.org.uk