North Shields volunteer honoured for his work

A volunteer who has dedicated more than 50 years to helping others throughout the North East has been recognised for selfless work

Alan Rowley with his award from North Tyneside Council
Alan Rowley with his award from North Tyneside Council

A volunteer who has dedicated more than 50 years to helping others throughout the North East has been recognised for selfless work.

Alan Rowley, from North Shields, North Tyneside, drew on his experiences of being partially sighted to go on to help people like him.

The 62-year-old has volunteered with the Tynemouth Blind Welfare Society for 50 years having acted as chairman for 15 years, raising thousands of pounds in the process.

His efforts both within this role and an array of other volunteering projects were recently honoured by North Tyneside Council when it gave Alan a Commendation Gold Award in recognition of a lifetime of voluntary work.

Alan, who lives with partner Gillian Martin, said: “It was one of my friends who put me forward for the award so it was a nice surprise.

“Being a volunteer you just go on and on and you don’t expect these things to come about. It was like winning an Oscar.

“It’s so nice to be recognised because I’ve done a tremendous amount of work in North Tyneside over the years.”

Alan, who is a retired rehabilitation officer for blind and partially sighted people at Gateshead Council, has volunteered with numerous organisations over the years including Visual Impairment North East, North Tyneside Alzheimer’s Society, Age UK and North Tyneside Hospital’s League of Friends.

He was first spurred on to help others as a lad when he became involved with the Tynemouth Blind Welfare Society at Pearey House, North Shields.

He said: “Becoming a volunteer actually gave me a career of 30 years as a rehabilitation officer at Gateshead Council so everything seemed to have a knock-on effect.”

As well as influencing his career path, Alan also met his current partner Gillian through his role at the Welfare Society.

He added: “We’ve been together a year now and we actually met through Pearey House as she is registered blind and is also hard of hearing.

“We have both overcome our disabilities by having a can-do approach to life.”

Tynemouth Blind Welfare Society, of which Alan is still a committee member, is an assisted living facility and day centre for blind and visually impaired people that offer on-site activities as well as supervised day trips.

And Alan, who is an active member of the community in his hometown of North Shields, has vowed to continue on in his volunteering ways for the foreseeable as he says he will never cease to enjoy helping other people.

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