Champion volunteers look forward to a royal audience

Darlington and Stockton Times: THINKING OF OTHERS: The Diamond Championships THINKING OF OTHERS: The Diamond Championships

A GOOD Samaritan is one of ten volunteers to be rewarded with a royal visit for their years of helping others.

Norma Bain was one of 60 people from across the North-East and Cumbria to be named a Diamond Champion by older people’s charity WRVS at a ceremony in Bishop Auckland yesterday.

The 80-year-old, from Darlington, was also one of ten chosen by a panel of judges, which included TV agony aunt Denise Robertson and Jane Ruffer, whose husband philanthropist Jonathan Ruffer heads the trust which now owns Auckland Castle.

The winners now travel to St James’ Palace in London next month for a ceremony with the Prince Of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.

The awards at Auckland Castle were held to recognise the years of volunteering put in by 60 over- 60s as part of the Queen’s diamond jubilee year.

Ms Bain started volunteering for the Samaritans 38 years ago while working as a teacher and said she has no plans to stop.

She said: “I decided that I wanted to give something back to the community but, to be honest, I didn’t think I would still be doing it now.

“I always said I would stop at 80, but now I have no intention of calling it a day.

“I am so happy to have been chosen to go to London, especially having heard all the moving stories of the other volunteers.”

Liz McAllister, director of the Darlington and District Samaritans, said: “Everyone at the Samaritans is inspired by Norma’s compassion and unending enthusiasm.”

Chris Graham, WRVS head of services for the North-East and Cumbria, said: “These champions are truly deserving of the honour and it is justified recognition of the selfless work they do in their communities to help others.”

Other winners going to London include Elizabeth Carr, 79, from Shildon, in County Durham, who co-founded a residents’ association to tackle troubles on her estate, and 83-year-old James Iles, from Ormseby, near Middlesbrough, who has volunteered for the National Trust and James Cook University Hospital for more than 20 years.

The 60 champions received their celebratory pins from the Lord Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear, Nigel Sherlock.

􀁧 Those who have been chosen to go to the ceremony with The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are:

COUNTY DURHAM: Norma Bain*, Peter Beatty, Colin Cameron, Alan Klottrup, Margaret Scott, Eddie Stringer, Irene Taylor, Lucy R Thompson, Valerie Wilkes, Anne Wright , Elizabeth Carr*, Jenny Dawson, Irene Dolby, Betty Erving, Carol Falconer, Mary Ferry, Edna Ford, Michael Fox, Vera Gaffney*, Mary Hewison, Rena Kelly, Mona Legg, Brenda Thwaites.

CUMBRIA: Ruth Burrows, Doreen Davies, Esme Eggleston*, Zelma Hallatt*, Betty Horricks, Marian Salway, Maureen Smith, Doreen Williamson.

HARTLEPOOL: David Scott, Elma Welsh, Alistair Winton.

MIDDLESBROUGH: Les Fawcett, Margaret Woods, Ivy Carney.

NORTHUMBERLAND: June Burgess, Kathy Burgon, Joan Davison, Pat Dick*, Susan Frater, John Goldfinch, Betty Hogg*, Ken John*, Audrey Jones, Harry Plater, June Pye, Joan Russell, Neil Telfer.

REDCAR AND CLEVELAND: James Iles*, Alan Morgan, Yvonne Morgan.

STOCKTON: Dorothy Enderwick.

TYNE AND WEAR: Jackie Bell, Patricia Folland*, Linda Iredale, Marjorie McMahon, Elizabeth Wilson.

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