Eighteen years of supporting victims and witnesses of crime

For nearly two decades, she has provided valuable support to victims and witnesses giving evidence in the Norwich courts.

But now, after 18 years of working for the Witness Service arm of Victim Support, Shirley Smith has retired from her most recent role as witness service manager at Norwich Magistrates' Courts.

Mrs Smith, who lives in Lingwood, decided she wanted to be involved in the witness service after being a victim of crime herself and seeing people give evidence while on jury service.

'It is a big ordeal to give evidence in a witness box, and when a victim or a witness comes to court they do not know what to expect. They are nervous, worried and concerned. Our role is to put them at ease and help them as much as we can,' she said.

'We have had so many lovely letters from people thanking us for our help and it is very rewarding to know you have helped people.'

Two years ago, Mrs Smith was invited to one of the Queen's garden parties at Buckingham Palace for her dedication to the service, and she said this was one of her most treasured memories.

She also said that she had made lots of friends working at the Witness Service and that she was extremely touched by the surprise party her colleagues organised for her aboard the Princess Elizabeth boat in Norwich on Wednesday night.

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In a speech at the party, Kevin Edwards, one of the Witness Service volunteers, paid tribute to Mrs Smith by saying he had never met such a genuine, honest and dedicated person who truly cares.

Mrs Smith, who is married to Trevor and has two sons and three grandchildren, started volunteering with Victim Support in 1993, mostly working at Norwich Crown Court.

Mrs Smith plans to spend time at her caravan at Newport, near Hemsby, with her family and looks forward to more holidays.

She will not be leaving the courts completely – after a summer break she plans to return to the crown court in September to be a volunteer for Victim Support.

Do you know somebody who has made a achieved great things in their life? Call reporter Emma Knights on 01603 772428 or email emma.knights@archant.co.uk