I left school at fifteen and for ten years worked as a baker and confectioner. I then married a Master Mariner and went to sea with him for five years.
With then three children and a husband away at sea, I needed to have something to expand my experiences. So I became a member of various charities, Royal Voluntary Service (formerly WRVS) being the main one, and I became the emergency organiser for the Preston area. This made me aware of the impact of losing a home and possessions, and linked to this I ran a clothing store where people in need were given free clothing.
I have also been a magistrate for twenty eight years and saw many cases of offenders having no support on leaving prison. So it was no surprise that after hearing Terry Waite speak in Preston that I wanted to be part of such a brilliant charity, Emmaus.
That was over twenty years ago when Emmaus Preston was just a dream. And at times it seemed a hopeless dream. It was difficult to raise funds when there was nothing to show, just an aspiration. But after many years and with help from the County Council we purchased The Birches, what was to become our community base. It has taken a long time for it to settle in, with lots of up and downs – definitely a big learning curve for all involved!
My role at Emmaus Preston is as a trustee and a volunteer. As well as being part of the board of trustees I also get stuck in and volunteer alongside companions in the shops. It is so satisfying to be part of the charity. I love seeing the change in companions as they settle in, working and having that belief and confidence building. I also like the fact that even though there are times when they fail they still have the umbrella of support.
The biggest reward of all is seeing companions moving on if they choose and usually with qualifications under their belt. We as trustees and volunteers are there to support, but the companion is the driver. I feel extremely privileged to be part of Emmaus.