WHEN the Golden Friendship Club started, a Dalmuir man was just looking to help people. 

Now more than a year on, the organisation has its charity status and runs groups entertaining the elderly, disabled and people with special needs and learning difficulties. 

And Jim McLaren, its founder, conceded he couldn’t have got to the point of making hundreds of people smile on a weekly basis without the support of the Clydebank community. 

The 54-year-old told the Post: “It started off as the Golden Friendship Club but it’s turning into the Golden Friendship community. The different sides of it are designated to different people. 

“The whole community has been amazing because up to this point we’ve been self-funded. All the money that funds it is coming from Clydebank. 

“I’m just the face of it. If it wasn’t for the community, I couldn’t have done it. They have allowed me to make this happen.”

The charity, based in an office at the 543 Club, is looking to expand its groups and begin a Golden Friendship Club for children during the school holidays. 

Jim has already contacted spoken with Robin House to invite young people from the hospice along to the club, which will officially start on April 10. 

And, while it’s a service to prevent those less fortunate from feeling isolated, Jim is convinced he gets more from it than anybody else.

“We want them to have a community,” Jim said. “Our business is entertaining them. We are trying to bring them the big events they can’t get.

“I was a taxi driver for 29 years but I’ve always done a bit of volunteering stuff. 

“I’ve got 15 plays and pantomimes booked this year. We organised that for free. That’s for everyone across the programmes. 

“It’s like a phenomenon. It’s unbelievable. We just want to help people.”

“I’ve done free karaoke for kids with special needs on the other side of Glasgow, so I wanted to bring it closer to home. 

“I get more back from it than anyone could give me. The relationship I have with people that come to the club is something I never expected. The club is just getting bigger and bigger all the time.”

Golden Friendship will hold a sponsored walk on March 25, with people taking part from around the world, as it looks to take people to the pantomime at no cost throughout the year.

Donations can be made for the sponsored walk at justgiving.com/fundraising/goldenfriendshipscharitywalk