Sheringham carer qualifies at the age of 75

Age UK North Norfolk volunteer Shirley Dakin is proving that it is never too late to learn, by becoming a qualified carer at the age of 75.

Retired office cleaner Shirley moved to Sheringham from Stalham after her husband Harry died in 1973. Keen to make new friends, she began attending the Age UK day centre in Cremer Street three years ago and, impressed by Shirley's willingness to help her fellow clients, centre manager Angela Reith suggested she study for an NVQ qualification.

"I was never much good at school so I was a bit nervous, but I have always enjoyed working with elderly people, so I thought why not?," Shirley said.

"I enjoy absolutely everything about volunteering at the day centre, you couldn't get a better place and it is the friendliness, the companionship and the wonderful staff that make it."

After breezing through her NVQ level one, Shirley went on to gain her level two qualification, studying subjects ranging from fire safety to first aid. She now spends most days helping out at the centre, where her duties range from serving up meals to helping with personal care.

"I do feel a sense of achievement," she said. "Although I couldn't have done it without the support of the Angela and the day centre staff."

Age UK North Norfolk befriending manager and Capacity and Access Team co-ordinator Elva Gledhill praised Shirley for her hard work.

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"Shirley has been an ideal volunteer and slipped into the role as if she was a member of staff," she said. "We are very proud of what she has achieved and I think it shows that age really is just a number."