Sprowston volunteer, 78, named a Diamond Champion for her community work

A 78-year-old Sprowston woman has been announced as a Diamond Champion for her outstanding volunteer work.

Edna Summers is one of five Norfolk champions named among 60 from East and South East England.

Diamond Champions, run by older people's charity WRVS, was launched as a way of recognising the contribution people over the age of 60 make through volunteering.

More than 860 people from East and South East England were nominated for consideration by a panel of judges who included Evening News owner Archant Media managing director Johnny Hustler.

Edna Summers, 78, of Barkers Lane, Sprowston, has been a stalwart of the charity Age Concern for the past decade, volunteering up to three times a week at local day centre meetings for dementia and Alzheimer's patients and their carers.

Edna, who travels as far afield as Dereham for the meetings, became involved after her husband John, himself a dementia patient, died in 2003.

She said: 'With no family around me, volunteering has been a lifeline for me.'

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And she said it was rewarding to be able to provide respite for carers for a short time as she knew from experience the stress they went through

Another local champion is Pamela Kemp, 79, of Shotesham Road, Poringland, who runs a Good Companions club for pensioners and supports a range of other activities in her village, including the Buena Vista film and social club.

She began taking an active role in Good Companions following her husband John's death 11 years ago.

'People really look forward to it as a chance to get out. We get 45 pensioners coming along, mainly widows and widowers, including some over 90,' she said.

The other Norfolk champions are

- Joan Newey, 87, of Meadow Drive, Hoveton, has served on the parish council for 40 years and is the telephone co-ordinator of the transport service she helped set up in 1986. 'I still do a bit of the driving,' she added.

- Ed Gwilliams, 82, of Richmond Place, Lyng, has been running ballroom and sequence dances for the past 20 years to raise funds for the Big C cancer charity and East Anglian Air Ambulance.

- David Gulliver, 73, of Surlingham Drive, Swaffham, has been chairman of the League of Friends of Swaffham Hospital for 17 years.

The Diamond Champions have been invited to an event in London o where they will be presented with a specially designed Diamond Champions pin.

Debbi Fair, WRVS head of region for East and South East, said: 'They are truly deserving of the honour and it is justified recognition of the selfless work they do.'