Lots of people have done a bit of volunteering here and there at some stage in their lives.
Not so many can say they’ve volunteered for the same charity, in the same town, for half a century.
Audrey Hope MBE can say that, having celebrated her 50th anniversary of working for the Berkhamsted branch of Oxfam at The Court House on Thursday.
A special cake was made for her by Karen Pangbourne from Karen’s Cakes and Art – which a mini, edible version of Audrey herself was sat on.
The 79-year-old said: “It has been a great privilege and pleasure to work alongside so many wonderful people for such a worthy cause.”
Audrey first began helping Oxfam in 1964 after joining a monthly Pledged Gift group where everyone donated the price of a loaf of bread to the overseas aid charity.
Varied activities from Christmas Card sales to Rich Man Poor Man lunches and temporary shops followed.
Then in 1979, the first permanent Oxfam shop opened in Berkhamsted’s Lower Kings Road, moving to the town’s High Street 10 years later.
Audrey was the volunteer shop manager for 27 years, retiring in 2006, though she is still a regular volunteer there.
In 2004 she was awarded an MBE for services to Oxfam in Berkhamsted.
Current manager of the store Csilla Pasztor said: “She’s always smiling, almost always positive. She’s 100 per cent with her heart and with her soul, living for Oxfam.”
But Audrey is not the only person who has been putting something back into her community through volunteering.
A pensioner who has been chair of trustees for a Kings Langley retirement home for the last 11 years has just stepped down from the post.
Rick Hogger used to live in the village and after he retired he looked for something to fill the gap left by not working.
He said: “I tried golf, but found it boring. I bought a canal boat and this helped, but the winters were long and good fortune washed me onto the shores of Gerrad House.”
Rick was originally a volunteer handyman at the home, but his talents were soon spotted and he was encouraged to join the trustees.
Eventually he took over the helm and has been running Garrad House, owned by the charity Abbeyfield, ever since on a voluntary basis. He has helped recruit staff and volunteers and bring the home up-to-date with his IT skills.
Geoff Ascott, who used to live in the home, said: “I have an incredibly high opinion of Rick, I think he has done marvellously, I even like his jokes.
“Not everyone does but they always bring a smile, or is it a moan?”
A goodbye party was organised for Rick by all the friends he has made at Garrad House. They also commissioned a painting of his beloved boat by the artist Anne Rea.
Rick hopes to continue for a while as a volunteer handyman for the home. A volunteer recruitment event will be held at Gerrad House on Thursday, June 19. To find out more, phone 01923 270791.
Meanwhile, Costa Coffee branches in Berkhamsted, Tring, Princes Risborough and Wendover were raising money for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People at the weekend.
The charity provides dogs to alert deaf people to important sounds and reduce the isolation of deafness.
Mary Gosling – a Berkhamsted-based deaf recipient of one of the dogs – joined the Berkhamsted fundraisers, along with town mayor Peter Matthews. Mr Matthews, 62, recently said it was the spirit of volunteering that first drove him to get involved in Berkhamsted’s politics.
He said: “Without volunteers, things do not run and I was at the stage in my working and family life that I could spend a bit more time volunteering. I am very much of the belief that if you have still got the energy and ability, you have got to give something back to the community and support it.”