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83-year-old from Frome is still volunteering strong after fifteen years

ADEDICATEDvolunteer has received a special award in recognition of her support for vulnerable children. 

Kathleen Leach has been supporting the Barnardo’s shop in Kingsway Precinct, Frome, for more than 15 years.

The 83-year-old first started volunteering in 1998 and became so popular with the customers’ children that she soon became known as ‘Auntie Kath’.

In recognition of her long service – and as part of national Volunteers’ Week (June 1st-7th) – she has been presented with  a certificate of appreciation, a badge and an engraved crystal champagne flute.

Kathleen said, “I moved to Frome to be closer to my daughter after my husband passed away, but I was sat indoors just watching television and reading. My daughter realised I was bored so one day we were looking around the Barnardo’s shop and on the spur of the moment she asked the manager if they needed any more helpers.

“I’d already been thinking about volunteering but I didn’t have a clue I’d still be here 15 years later.

“I’ve always enjoyed it because you get to meet so many different people, and we’ve got a great team of all ages – I even end up showing some of the younger ones how to use the technology on the till!

“Volunteering gives me a reason to get up and get out of the house. It keeps me happy and it’s great to know that we’re also helping vulnerable children.”

Barnardo’s shop manager Judith Loughlin said, “We are always pleased to recognise the long service of our volunteers.

“Kathleen gets on well with everyone, but especially the children, which is why most people simply know her as ‘Auntie Kath.’

“It’s a sign of how volunteering can create a whole new ‘extended family’.”

Fellow volunteer Wendy Amor also attended the presentation to receive badges for her five years of support.

The Barnardo’s shop is open from Monday to Saturday from 9am-5pm, and always welcomes donations of good-quality cloths, books, toys, games and accessories, as well as offers of help from potential volunteers. Call 463513.

Pictured: Barnardo’s  volunteers Kathleen Leach and Wendy Amor receive their awards from shop manager Judith Loughlin.