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Thirty years since I started volunteering, I’m still not ready to quit

90 year-old Pat has been a volunteer since she retired 30 years ago. Through volunteering, she’s found an amazing circle of friends and a real sense of purpose.

Pat writes for us on why she became a volunteer – and why she’s still doing it, thirty years on.

I retired from work thirty years ago, and when I stopped working I wanted to do something to contribute to a charity. I decided that I hadn’t got a lot of money to start throwing about so the best thing to do would be to go and volunteer at one.

Someone told me that North Craven Age UK, or Age Concern as it was then, had just started up and was wanting people to help out. I thought to myself, ‘Right, go on!’ and so I went in to see them. In that day you had to have someone to back you, and I had the vicar to back me, and pretty soon I started volunteering there.

That was back when it was first started, and there was next to no-one volunteering there. It meant you really had to do all sorts – over the time I’ve volunteered there, I reckon I’ve done just about everything at some time or other!

It’s got much bigger over the years, but what hasn’t changed is that you can still go and enjoy yourself. So many different people have come and worked there over the years, I’ve met all kinds of people – and it’s just like a little family. We’ve gone on trips, done things together – it’s been a really happy place to spend time.

So many different people have come and worked there over the years, I’ve met all kinds of people – and it’s just like a little family.

Sadly I’ve had many friends who have died over the years. Through volunteering, though, I’ve made so many new ones. Even this year I’ve made a new friend who I get on really well with, and we spend lots of time together.  

It’s been thirty years now since I started volunteering, and to celebrate they gave me a party! They invited my husband and my daughter, and they got me a cake – it was lovely.

This last year or two I have got a bit slower and so they’ve put up with me – you feel supported all the way through. And this year I decided to step back from volunteering regularly, although I don’t like to say I’ve retired – I’ll still be helping out when I can, and they’ll still be putting up with me!  

Pat volunteers with Age UK North Craven which runs ‘Good Friends for All’, one of five projects working with the Centre for Ageing Better and DCMS to test new ways that organisations can better support people in later life to volunteer and be involved in their communities.

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