INSTEAD of putting his feet up and relaxing, a former police chief is using his retirement to help vulnerable people – and hopes to inspire others to do the same.

As Darlington police’s neighbourhood commander, Andy Reddick was in charge of hundreds of police officers, and helped reduce crime in the town by 15 per cent.

But last year, after more than 22 years with the force, the 55-year-old hung up his cuffs and now volunteers every week at St John’s Community Centre, in Catterick Garrison.

The centre, in Shute Road, provides a day centre for elderly people on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, as well as offering help with internet shopping and trips to the supermarket.

It also gives vital respite for carers who look after an elderly or disabled relative by offering a sitting service, where a volunteer sits with the family member, giving their carer a few hours’ rest.

Mr Reddick began volunteering in October and is a regular face at the day centre. He also works as a volunteer minibus driver, as well as helping with the sitting service.

“I knew when I retired that I either wanted to work with very young children or the elderly and when I came here the first time I just thought this is exactly what I want to do,” he said.

“I think that quite often the elderly are overlooked, but their lives are incredible – they have got so many incredible stories.

“The centre helps people and gets them more involved in the community.”

The centre helps around 200 vulnerable people every week, and Mr Reddick is one of a number of volunteers who help keep the charity going.

Chief officer Jacqueline Brakenberry said: “It becomes like a family for the people who come here – they love coming here and spending time with each other.

“It also gives family members a break knowing their relative is being well looked after.”

The centre often becomes a lifeline for many vulnerable people who, without it, would not leave their homes.

It also offers help with daily life and takes members on regular days out.

Joyce Pelling, of Colburn, attends the day centre every week. The 84-year-old said: “There is always something for us to do here, and the company is great. For some people this is the only chance they get to meet people.”

The centre relies on volunteers and is appealing for anyone who can spare a few hours a week to get in touch.

To find out more call 01748-832271 or email