One of Wimbledon Guild’s most popular volunteers is celebrating two milestones on Thursday – her 50th birthday and clocking up more than 5,000 hours of volunteering with the social welfare charity.
Noreen Sheridan, who has Down’s Syndrome, is a valued member of the team at Wimbledon Guild’s café, where she holds a special place in the hearts of customers and staff.
The 49-year-old has overcome many difficulties in her early life to become one of Wimbledon Guild’s most dedicated volunteers. Staff say she has made an ‘outstanding’ contribution and have nominated her for the Merton Community Awards as a way of saying thank you for all her hard work.
For the last nine years, Noreen has been working part-time alongside the café staff and other volunteers and has never missed a day’s work, apart from holidays.
Wimbledon Guild’s Head of Social Welfare Jane Platts first got to know Noreen through her previous job as a social worker. When Jane moved to Wimbledon Guild, she encouraged Noreen to become a volunteer.
Jane said: “As a local social welfare charity, we rely heavily on the support of our volunteers to help us help others throughout Merton.
“While we appreciate the efforts of every single one of our volunteers, the contribution made by Noreen is outstanding for a number of reasons.”
Noreen lives with a small group of other people who have learning disabilities in a supported living environment, and works two days a week in Wimbledon Guild’s café.
Her duties range from prepping veg in the kitchen to serving orders to customers, clearing tables and helping with other duties.
But it is her kindness and care for others that have made her one of the most popular members of the café team.
Jane said: “Our customers have a soft spot for Noreen as she is very caring and kind-hearted towards them. One of our regulars has cerebral palsy and he is very appreciative of the fact that Noreen really looks after him very well.
“Although it is difficult to have a conversation with Noreen, as she wears hearing aids and has limited speech, her actions speak louder than words. Many of our customers are older people and if they are feeling a bit down or lonely, she will take time to sit with them and hold their hand to show she cares.
“Noreen is a fantastic member of the team and shows dedication and commitment above and beyond her duties as a volunteer. She comes to all the staff meetings and takes pride in wearing her café uniform. The only time she is off is when she’s on holiday as she’s never been off sick in the whole nine years that she has been with Wimbledon Guild.”
Jane added; “Everyone at Wimbledon Guild thinks the world of her and we hope she has a wonderful birthday.”