North East Royal Voluntary Service trio retire after delivering books to thousands

Three women from the Royal Voluntary Service close final chapter on their careers delivering books

© North News & Pictures ltd Volunteers (left to right) Joan Nichol, Audrey Owers and Moira Shearer
Volunteers (left to right) Joan Nichol, Audrey Owers and Moira Shearer, who have clocked up 46 years between them volunteering for the Books at Home service and Councillor John Kelly, Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture, with the cake baked in their honour.

Three volunteers are closing the final chapter on a career devoted to delivering books to thousands of homes across the North East

The trio, Audrey Owers, Joan Nichol and Moira Shearer are all volunteers for the RVS - Royal Voluntary Service - Books at Home service which delivers books to people in their own homes.

The scheme sees the women making their way around hundreds of Wearside homes every month.

For many it also acts as a befriending service, with volunteers building up fond relationships with customers and making time for a cup of tea and a chat when they can.

Audrey and Joan have been with the service since it began life as Books on Wheels 17 years ago and have both previously received long service awards. Moira began volunteering with the service 12 years ago.

Audrey, who is now 86, took over the role of co-ordinator for the scheme soon after she began volunteering for the RVS.

She said: “You get as much pleasure, enjoyment and satisfaction as the people you’re delivering books to.

“I’ve met some wonderful people and made some wonderful friends.

“You feel like you’re really doing something with your life. It’s a real God-send.”

Praising the three volunteers, Councillor John Kelly, Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Culture and Wellness at Sunderland City Council, said: “The Books at Home Service couldn’t exist without the dedication and hard work of volunteers like Audrey, Joan and Moira. The work they do brings so much joy into so many people’s lives.

“They’re a real inspiration to others and I can’t speak highly enough of them.”

© North News & Pictures ltd Volunteers (left to right) Joan Nichol, Audrey Owers and Moira Shearer
Volunteers (left to right) Joan Nichol, Audrey Owers and Moira Shearer
 

Renamed Books at Home, the service was expanded earlier this year to be available for anyone who can’t access library services because of their age, ill health, disability or long or short term mobility problems.

It operates from Sandhill View, Bunnyhill, Houghton and Washington Libraries and it complements the Patients Library Service at Sunderland Royal which provides patients with books during their stay in hospital, and if needed refers them to the Books at home service when they leave.

Councillor Kelly, added: “Books at Home is such a good service, it gets right into the heart of communities, delivering books to people in their own homes right across the city on a temporary or permanent basis.

“The volunteers do a fantastic job and they always tell us that they get a lot of personal satisfaction out of it too so I would urge anyone who’s ever thought about volunteering to find out more about what it’s all about. “

Anyone interested in volunteering for books at home and other volunteering opportunities can contact libraries@sunderland.gov.uk or 561 1235.

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