A dedicated volunteer from Otley has been declared a national “champion” for her tireless support of local charities.
Jenny Jeffels, of The Gills, was chosen from more than 4,500 nominees to receive a WRVS Diamond Champion award – and then picked to be one of just ten volunteers from Yorkshire to go to St James’s Palace.
The 66-year-old received the honour in recognition of her many years of dedicated work for Aireborough Summer Activities Scheme (ASAS), which helps children and young people with disabilities, Airedale and Wharfedale Autism Resource (AWARE) and Wheatfields Hospice’s fundraising committee.
However, due to ill health earlier this year, she was unable to attend either the awards presentation at York or the royal party, which would have seen her meet the Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall last week. Aireborough Summer Activities Scheme project co-ordinator Jo Galasso, who nominated Mrs Jeffels for the award, said: “Jenny isn’t just a volunteer, she’s a great friend and supporter to the staff and volunteers, parents and children and so many other people she touches the lives of.
“She was nominated as a WRVS Diamond Champion volunteer and, from 4,573 nominees, selected to receive the award and invited to a presentation luncheon in York.
“She was then shortlisted to ten from our region, and 70 across the country, to go to St James’s Palace in London.
“Unfortunately, in April Jenny was taken ill and had to have an emergency operation which she is still recovering from, so due to her health she has had to decline both. But we didn’t want this award to go unrecognised.
“Jenny, who says volunteering gives her a reason to get up in a morning and makes her feel alive, means so much to all the members of ASAS and AWARE.
“Everyone has been so concerned and missing her and we just hope she’ll be back with us again soon.”
On her nomination form, Mrs Galasso described the many roles Mrs Jeffels, who was born with cerebral palsy, fills for the charities. She said: “At youth club Jenny always buys the milk, washes and brings the tea towels, cleans out the kitchen cupboards, serves in the tuck shop, keeps check of stock and makes a shopping list of required items. She has also trained a young man with autism as a tuck shop assistant.
“At all the play schemes she supports children with profound multiple disabilities or autism on a one-to-one basis, giving them her undivided attention, encouraging them to take part in the activities and have fun and generally meeting their basic care needs.
“She also keeps equipment in her spare bedroom at home which she keeps check of and replaces as required, to her cost. She never claims volunteer expenses and, when we insist on giving her them, she donates them back again.”