Royal encounter for village volunteer

Celia Dennis with the Duchess of Cornwall. Picture by Michael Crabtree
Celia Dennis with the Duchess of Cornwall. Picture by Michael Crabtree

A long-serving volunteer spent a day with royalty as she was honoured for the many years spent helping elderly people struggling with loneliness.

Celia Dennis, from Coldwaltham, was invited by the Royal Voluntary Service to attend a special reception at Clarence House, hosted by the charity’s president Camilla The Duchess of Cornwall.

The 74-year-old has given up her time over the past five years working as a customer support volunteer, providing support for older people suffering from loneliness.

She said: “The Duchess was lovely, but everyone was fantastic; all the staff went out of their way to make the day special. I would recommend volunteering to anyone, it gives me a deep personal sense of satisfaction seeing people make improvements in their health and friendships. An added bonus is the many opportunities to make friends with fellow volunteers and to seek advice and give encouragement.”

The event was held to mark the launch of the charity’s ‘Our Amazing People’ campaign, celebrating the talents and skills of older people and the contribution they make to society.

Celia has given many talks and over the last three years has taken part in the charity’s one day festival, GrandFest, passing on her expert crochet skills and highlighting the importance of staying active in older age.

Catherine Johnstone CBE, Chief Executive of Royal Voluntary Service, said: “Our volunteers do wonderful things in their communities, often without getting the recognition they deserve, so we were delighted to be able to invite Celia to attend this celebration at Clarence House.

“Celia devotes a great deal of her time to Royal Voluntary Service and it’s this sort of commitment that makes the difference to thousands of lives of older people throughout Great Britain.”

The charity will be launching a new drive for volunteers over the next few months.

It currently has more than 25,000 volunteers, most of which are over 65, who give up the equivalent of 500,000 working days to support their communities.

Royal Voluntary Service is also one of the largest retailers in the NHS, with its network of cafes and shops providing a valued haven in hospitals.