British Red Cross volunteer of 36 years from Taverham makes New Year’s Honours List 2019

Norwich woman Lesley Smith, who has volunteered for the British Red Cross for 36 years, has been mad

Norwich woman Lesley Smith, who has volunteered for the British Red Cross for 36 years, has been made MBE in the New Year's Honours Lits 2019. Picture: Lesley Smith - Credit: Lesley Smith

A Taverham woman who has dedicated 36 years to the British Red Cross has been made an MBE in the New Year's Honours List 2019.

Lesley Smith, 56, of Snowberry Close, began volunteering with the British Red Cross in 1982 and has acted as a crisis responder across the region for more than three decades.

She continues to volunteer for the charity in which she teaches first aid to hundreds of young people and adults in the area.

'I used to work in a bank,' said Ms Smith. 'My boss invited me to do a first aid course and I really enjoyed it.

'I knew there would be limited need for me to use my new skills in the bank so I decided to volunteer with the British Red Cross.'

Over the decades, Ms Smith has held several Red Cross volunteer positions assisting in Norfolk and Suffolk, including volunteer recruitment, crisis education and crisis team leader, using her first aid skills to support the local community and train other people.

'I am overwhelmed that I have been singled out for this award as the thing I love best about volunteering is being part of a team,' she said.

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'There is a great sense of camaraderie and together we help make a difference. It's not just me.'

One of the most poignant moments for Ms Smith came quite recently when she volunteered on the support line set-up in Norwich to help assist local people affected by the Manchester Arena bombing, Grenfell Tower fire and terror attack at Westminster.

'I spent three months that summer, answering phones, signposting people to services that could help them and being available for people to talk to if they needed it,' she added.

'I don't think I do anything special so I was completely shocked when I heard about this award.

'It's very surreal. People ask me why I'm still volunteering after so many years and it's because of the friendship and the little things I can do to help make a difference.'

Mike Adamson, chief executive of the British Red Cross, said: 'Lesley is a shining example of the exemplary volunteers we are lucky to have supporting the vital work of the Red Cross.

'She has dedicated much of her life to first aid and helping to train others.

'I would like to pass on my congratulations to Lesley on this well-deserved honour and thank her for the continued passion she has for helping to make a difference across Norfolk and beyond.

'We couldn't do our work without the dedication of volunteers like Lesley, supporting people to prepare and respond to crises in their community.'