Film star Jeremy Irons will lead a 40th birthday celebration at Oxford University's Merton College for loneliness charity The Archway Foundation.

On Saturday, June 18, the celebrated actor and long-time Patron of Archway Jeremy Irons, will join local dignitaries, including the Archdeacon, Lord Lieutenant, and the Mayors of Oxford and Abingdon, as well as staff, volunteers, patrons, trustees and beneficiaries of Archway past and present.

They will take part in a private thanksgiving service and cake-cutting ceremony in the college chapel.

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Since 1982, Archway has been working in Oxford, Abingdon and surrounding areas to alleviate the distress caused by loneliness and social isolation, through supported social groups, meeting up with people face-to-face and, in response to the pandemic, a telephone support service.

Oxford Mail:

Archway CEO Sheila Furlong, who was recently awarded an MBE for services to mental health, said: “During the past 40 years, The Archway Foundation has brought relief from the pain of loneliness to thousands of Oxfordshire residents.

“This has only been made possible through the dedication of a small staff group, supportive pro-active trustees, committed compassionate volunteers, the trust and involvement of those who contact us for help, and support from the local community.

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“As we look back with gratitude for all that has been achieved we renew our commitment to reducing loneliness by offering a compassionate listening ear, acceptance, a sense of belonging and opportunities for making meaningful connection with others to help build community for the next 40 years and beyond.”

Jeremy Irons has lived in Watlington for many years.

Oxford Mail:

In 2020 he treated fans to a storytelling session while he was perched in a tree near his home.

The fun was part of the town’s postponed Oxfordshire Artweeks celebrations and saw the town transformed into an open air gallery for the day.

The Outdoor Hidden Art Trail celebrated the community’s support during the pandemic.

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Oxford Mail:

In England, over 25 million people - 45% of all adults - occasionally, sometimes or often feel lonely.

Loneliness affects people of all ages - the highest groups being the under-25s and over-65s.

In the UK, the number over 50s suffering from loneliness is set to reach two million by 2025/6 - an increase of 49% in 10 years.

And lack of social connections has been linked to cardiovascular health risks and increased death rates, blood pressure, depression and risk of dementia.

For more information about the Archway Foundation visit

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This story was written by Andy Ffrench, he joined the team more than 20 years ago and now covers community news across Oxfordshire.

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