“Even coffee drinkers are welcome here at the Tea Lovers Circle,” laughs Ann Gourlay.

More than just a tongue-in-cheek quip, Ann’s words echo the all-in-this-together approach to local life in Carmyle.

As a community mover and shaker, if you ask what makes Ann tick, the answer lies in giving back to the area she and fellow residents affectionately call “the village.”

With a small band of volunteers by her side, Ann, 73, is the driving force behind a number of community achievements that have bonded Carmyle with neighbouring Mount Vernon.

One is the Kenmuir and Carmyle Tea Lovers Circle, known locally as the TLC. Initially opened as a meeting cafe for local residents with mild to moderate dementia and their carers, the circle has grown into an inclusive space where people of all ages can remain social with old friends and new.

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“We don’t believe in people with dementia being segregated,” says Ann. “They shouldn’t be left out of anything. Plus there are a lot of lonely people in our community and they or their carers have nowhere to go.”

Located at Carmyle Church of Scotland, everyone is welcome whether they share in the Christian faith or have little or no spiritual tradition.

This open hand of friendship sees up to 80 people from the community attend the TLC, making the most of the singers, speakers and day trips organised by Ann.

Proud Carmylite and regular face at the TLC is 81-year-old Ruby Armitage. As a community champion herself, having run the local senior citizens group for 15 years, Ruby is full of praise for the way Ann has brought together the community she loves.

Ruby says: “Ann is the kind of person who includes everyone. She’s doesn’t do favourites and treats everyone equally. The TLC is wonderful for the village because it brings everyone out.”

“One lady that comes who is living with dementia chaps my door and asks: ‘Is it today?’” adds Ruby. “I say no, it’s next week. But that shows the enthusiasm she has for the TLC. There might be a lot of things she can’t remember, but not that.”

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Ann, who also volunteers as a dog walker and runs sing sessions in a local care home, owned a family butchers and worked across healthcare before getting busy in her retirement.

In becoming a carer for her late husband during his illness, she realised loneliness can hit hard.

“I’ve always had a great network of friends,” says Ann. “But you’ve got to remember other people aren’t as fortunate. Sometimes when support is outwith your area you’re not inclined to go, as it’s just too much.”

Following her husband’s passing 13 years ago, Ann saw how easy it is for people in grief to shut themselves away. If she ever needed extra motivation to help others, she explains: “I’ve always been a Christian and I felt God was saying; ‘I’m not finished with you yet’.”

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While there’s no lack of people ready to pat Ann’s back for all the work she’s done to improve the lives of the Carmyle and Mount Vernon communities, she has no time for gossip nor egos.

Ann laughs: “People in the East End don’t let you get precious, they'd cut you down first.”

More info about the Kenmuir and Carmyle Tea Lovers Circle can be found on their Facebook page.