A VOLUNTEER has won a £10,000 prize for her church from Ecclesiastical Insurance in recognition of her “tireless efforts” for 60 years.
The volunteer, Betty Keywood, aged 87, of St Stephen’s, Tonbridge, in Kent, was nominated for the “Little Deeds, Big Difference” competition, which recognises the contributions of church volunteers (News, 21 September). She was awarded the prize on Thursday at a lunch in St Martin-in-the-Fields, in London.
A press release from Ecclesiastical said: “Betty’s tireless efforts, which include counselling and organising craft groups, have transformed the lives of countless vulnerable people in her community. Over the past 60 years, Betty has dedicated her time to supporting the elderly, disabled, recently bereaved and those suffering from depression.
“Ecclesiastical’s judging panel was particularly impressed with the longevity and breadth of her commitment to volunteering and the significant number of people she has reached.”
Five other volunteers have been awarded £2000 for their churches: Sharon Blair of Holy Trinity, Combe Down, in Somerset; Freda Gibbons of St Mary and St John, Lamyatt, in Somerset; Mary Hughes of St Michael and All Angels, Bishop’s Cleeve, in Cheltenham; “The Friday Men” of Christ Church, Thornton-Cleveleys, in Lancashire; and Roger Townsin of All Saints’, Kettlestone, near Fakenham, in Norfolk.
Nearly 350 entries were received.
Commenting on her nomination, Betty Keywood said: “They’re making an awful lot of fuss about me doing things that I thoroughly enjoy doing. I love helping people and that’s what I do.”
Speaking after receiving her award, she said: “I can’t believe it yet; I’m not used to winning things.
“I’ve learnt such a lot [volunteering]. I like people, particularly old people, to find something they can do and get some pleasure out of. They’re often pushed aside.”
The Vicar of St Stephen’s, Tonbridge, the Revd Mark Baker, said: “Betty has given of herself, very quietly and humbly, over the years. She has made a big difference.”
Read more about Betty Heywood and the other five volunteers here: www.ecclesiastical.com/churchcomp