THE driving force behind a support group for disabled people has retired from her voluntary work there.
Pam Tunbridge, a past winner of Best Volunteer in the Herald & Gazette Community Stars awards, has helped the Voice of Disability’s Shoreham and Southwick Disabled Club to grow over the years.
Treasurer Ian Nicholson said: “Pam has been our driving force for more than 20 years. The Voice of Disability Shoreham and Southwick Disabled Club had only three members when Pam started, now it is between 16 and 20.
“The effort put into building the club up and at the same time helping other charities, 4SIGHT and Cancer Research, led to Pam receiving the Lavinia Duchess of Norfolk Award for outstanding contributions to West Sussex Association for the Disabled, now known as Independent Lives.
“This was followed by being a very deserving winner of Best Volunteer in the Herald & Gazette Community Stars awards.”
When Pam won the Community Stars award in November, 2010, at the age of 86, she said she was ‘flabbergasted’.
“Of course, it is nice to be recognised, but you don’t do it for that reason,” she added.
At the time, she was also volunteering as a receptionist for 4SIGHT and helping out at the Cancer Research shop in East Street, Shoreham.
Pam, who lives in Shoreham, said she had loved volunteering, especially the social side of it, and it had helped her to stay physically fit.
“It keeps you going when you’re old. And you meet so many lovely people,” she added.
A mother-of-three, Pam turned to volunteering when her daughter Gail died at the age of 44, after losing her battle with cancer.
She said volunteering at the Cancer Research shop had helped her to ‘give something back’, as the charity had really helped her when Gail died.
It was her work at the shop, as well as the two other charities, that led Sheila Clevett to nominate Pam for the award in 2010.
The previous year, friend Peter Berry had also nominated Pam because of her good work in the community.
He said she was a very busy woman but it was not so much that she spent so many days volunteering, it was that she had been in continuous service to the community for at least 20 years that made her worthy of the award.
Pam helped run the Shoreham and Southwick branch of the West Sussex Association for the Disabled at Southwick Community Centre and organised regular excursions for members.
The Shoreham and Southwick group is now one of eight Voice for Disability groups in Sussex, providing an important link in maintaining the independence of people with disabilities.