Volunteer story - Noreen

Noreen Sleaford, 89, was a volunteer at Doncaster Samaritans for 50 years. A founding member of the branch, she retired from her duties this year. She reflects upon her experiences.

"Fifty years ago, I was working at a secretary in Doncaster. One of my co-workers wanted to open a Samaritans branch in the town centre, offering support to local people that were struggling to cope.

"I’d always wanted to help people so when my colleague asked if I’d be interested in volunteering with her, I jumped at the opportunity.

"We figured our secretary skills would be useful and became founding members of the branch.

"Samaritans became part of my way of life right away. Every week I would leave work at 4pm on Fridays to make it to my 5pm Samaritans shift.

"I enjoyed feeling like I was doing something good for my fellow man and made great friends with other volunteers. In fact, I’m still friends with many of them to this day.

"I never married or had children, so once my mother died I decided I could put more time into volunteering.

"In addition to Samaritans, I volunteered at the local Oxfam shop for 25 years and continue to support the local theatre.

"I wish Samaritans all the best for the future.

"The organisation has changed a lot over the years, but its services are still just as important today as they were when I first joined 50 years ago."