A tireless volunteer has been rewarded for her long service after clocking up two decades supporting East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH).
Linda Gidley is a linchpin of the charity’s shop in Norwich Road, Long Stratton.
Her main responsibility is overseeing clothing donations, steaming items and double-checking their quality before they head out to be sold.
Linda’s time with the charity dates back to 2002, when the shop was run by volunteers to raise funds for EACH’s former hospice at Quidenham.
To mark her loyalty, she was recently presented with a special 20-year long service award by shop manager Rachael Fretter.
“The charity has grown so much over the years and it’s such an incredibly worthwhile cause,” said Linda, who celebrated her 70th birthday in January.
“The people who work and volunteer here are lovely, not to mention the customers.
“I like making sure the shop looks the best it can and one of my main tasks is steaming clothes on a Friday afternoon, so they are ready to be sold on a Saturday.
“Helping out is something I’d recommend to anyone and I certainly plan to continue as long as possible.
“While I’m fit and able, there’s no reason to stop and I’ll keep volunteering until they don’t want me anymore!
“I’m happy to turn my hand to anything. Give me a job and I’ll do it.
“It gives me a chance to meet so many interesting, amazing people and it’s such an outstanding charity.
“I always used to find it inspiring going to Quidenham and it’s the same with EACH’s amazing new hospice, The Nook, at Framingham Earl.
“I try to put myself in the position of the parents who go there.
“It must be so difficult for them, but at least our charity gives them comfort.
“So many amazing things happen at the hospices and even just provided some respite care gives them a chance to recoup and recharge their batteries.”
By her own admission, Linda’s volunteering is “another world” from her busy full-time job working for BT in London.
Everything changed after being given the opportunity to take voluntary redundancy when she was 45.
Husband Alan, who worked in a bank in the city, had been made redundant the previous year.
“We decided the best thing we could do would be to move somewhere new and build a fresh life for ourselves,” said Linda.
“Norfolk was somewhere we loved, having previously visited for vintage motorcycle rallies.
“We knew it well and decided to buy a house and move to Long Stratton. That was in 1997.
“I’d worked full-time all my life and certainly wasn’t ready for a pipe and slippers existence at the age of 45.
“I needed something worthwhile and also wanted to mix with people.
“Initially we were busy doing up our house and garden, but after that I became aware of the shop.
“It was right on the doorstep, in our village, and for such a great cause. I wanted to do what I could to help and it got me out of the house.
“My hectic, full-time working life seems a lifetime ago – like it happened to someone else.
“It’s also amazing to think how things have changed. The charity has grown so much and all for the better.”
Anyone interested in helping out at Long Stratton can pop into the shop, email Rachael via Rachael.email@example.com or call 01508 531507.