Accolades for North Walsham charity shop volunteers

A north Norfolk charity shop worker, described as 'one in a million', has been selected as a national charity's Volunteer of the Year.

Barbara Wharton has earned the accolade after giving 19 years' service to the Arthritis Research UK shop in North Walsham, which is one of 34 run by the charity nationwide.

Her recognition, during National Volunteers' Week, comes in tandem with that of friend and fellow helper Phyllis Rice, who has clocked up 18 years at the shop. The pair, who both suffer from arthritis themselves, have been dubbed the charity's longest-serving volunteers.

Margaret Barnes, district manager for the charity, said: 'Barbara has been involved since before the shop opened. She is everything that is good about volunteers. - calm, friendly and helpful.'

Mrs Wharton, 78, from Tunstead, said that after she was widowed, she had answered an advertisement asking for people interested in starting up a shop and had been involved ever since.

'I just love meeting people, and this shop,' said Mrs Wharton, who was in the Post Office business for 30 years, running a Post Office in Coltishall with her husband for 12 years before retirement. 'You get to know your regular customers - it's like home from home. I would recommend volunteering to everyone; there's no need to stay at home and be lonely.'

Mrs Rice, 83, from Tunstead, said ill health forced her to give up her volunteering role for a time last year but the staff had encouraged her to return and she was delighted that she had done so.

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'I'm very happy here and it's such a deserving cause,' she said.

Shop manager Joy Hodgson said they could not operate without volunteers. She added: 'We get a huge variety of people in the shop and Barbara and Phyllis get on well with everybody.'

Mrs Wharton will receive �80 of vouchers as a prize which she intends to put towards a replacement cooker. She uses her current model, which is 24 years old, to make goodies for functions at Tunstead Church where she is treasurer and a churchwarden.