Honouring Northumberland’s volunteers

Age UK Northumberland's Volunteer of the Year Michael Gunning with chief executive Helen Mills.
Age UK Northumberland's Volunteer of the Year Michael Gunning with chief executive Helen Mills.

Valued volunteers have been honoured for their work at a Northumberland charity.

Age UK Northumberland has recognised those who help older people in the county at the Big Thank You Volunteer Awards.

Liz Bratton with Andrew Marsh, chair of trustees at Age UK Northumberland.

Liz Bratton with Andrew Marsh, chair of trustees at Age UK Northumberland.

Service users and staff were invited to nominate volunteers for an award.

The overall winner was Michael Gunning, who was named Volunteer of the Year.

Other winners were: Simon Buist – Brian Smith Information and Advice Award; Liz Bratton – Befriending Volunteer; Volunteer Advocacy Team – Volunteer Advocates; Bill Cook and Keith Brotherton (Digital Volunteers) – The Round House Volunteers; Ruth Bartlett (Allendale Lunch Club) – Lunch Club Volunteer; Shirley Markham (Isabella Day Centre, Blyth) – Day Centre Volunteer; Angela Souter – Health and Wellbeing Volunteer; Elaine Nelson – Admin Volunteer.

All of the Age UK Northumberland volunteers were invited to the ceremony, where there was a prosecco afternoon tea and entertainment from the Josephine Butler Primary School Choir.

Andrew Marsh, chairman of trustees at Age UK Northumberland, said: “We couldn’t provide the level of service that we do without our volunteers and staff.

“Collectively, volunteers provide over 25,000 hours of care, advice, support and friendship, and I have seen the positive impact this has on individuals lives.

“On behalf of myself and the board of trustees, I would like to say thank you to everyone that volunteers to help the older people of Northumberland.”

The Befriending Volunteer category was a new addition this year following the development of a number of social groups and telephone befriending service.

Liz Bratton was honoured for her work as a befriender at Social Fridays, before being the first to volunteer for the new telephone befriending service.

Helen Mills, chief executive, said: “The Friendship Line offers isolated or lonely older people a regular telephone call, giving them some companionship and to help lessen the feeling of isolation or loneliness.

“Volunteers like Liz are crucial to the sustainability and development of this service and for that, we are truly grateful.

“Liz’s kind heart and dedication makes her the perfect befriender and I would like to congratulate her and all of the award winners on their achievements.”

Age UK Northumberland is a charity, providing services for older adults.

The central service is free information, advice and advocacy. Other services are designed to meet local needs and include day care, befriending, personal care, exercise and falls prevention classes, lunch clubs and day centres.

Susan Chrisp, volunteer co-ordinator, said: “My role at Age UK Northumberland is an absolute pleasure. I am always astounded by the number of people who want to help in any way that they can and who are prepared to give up their free time to do so.

“It was great to celebrate the achievements of our volunteers and I would like to congratulate the award winners on their achievement.”

To find out more about volunteering and how you can help, contact Susan at susan.chrisp@ageuk-northumberland.org.uk or call 01670 784800.