British Heart Foundation shop stalwart from Sudbury receives Volunteer of the Year award in recognition of 23 years of service
A long-serving contributor to a Sudbury charity shop has earned top recognition for over two decades of service, as part of a national celebration of volunteers this week.
To coincide with Volunteers’ Week, which took place this month, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) paid tribute to the work of its 17,000 retail volunteers, with awards handed out to select individuals around the country.
The recipients include Carol Offord, who received a Volunteer of the Year accolade for her dedication and compassion during her 23 years of contributions to the BHF shop in Old Market Place.
The charity, which funds vital research into heart disease, holds personal significance for Carol, whose husband and son both died of heart-related problems, at the age of 50 and 43, respectively.
“I have volunteered for the British Heart Foundation since the shop opened in June 2000,” she said.
“Volunteering has given me a sense of purpose, by working with people on a daily basis, as well as the feeling of giving something back to the British Heart Foundation.
“My mental health has been helped, as I am occupied and have something to concentrate on.
“I am not sat at home over thinking things, and I would urge anyone in a similar position to volunteer with us, too.
“I have also met so many friends since volunteering here, including our customers.
“This award makes me feel honoured. It is lovely to be recognised for something which I love doing.”
The foundation also revealed that a survey of its shop volunteers found that many felt volunteering had helped to improve their mental wellbeing and ward off feelings of loneliness.
Julie Fance, BHF shop manager in Sudbury, said: “Carol is driven by the importance of her reason for being here and is proud of ‘her charity’, encouraging others to volunteer and telling people what a difference it has made to her.
“Despite everything she has gone through, Carol is a brave woman and works with such compassion.
“She’s a tremendous ambassador for the British Heart Foundation and her incredible 23 years with us proves her passion for the charity.”