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Doreen is a community champion

PUBLISHED: 15:24 23 February 2010 | UPDATED: 08:21 02 July 2010

Doreen Cochrane

Doreen Cochrane

Sam Emanuel

She might have a terminal lung disease that leaves her struggling for breath, but that has not stopped Doreen Cochrane from working tirelessly to improve her community and raise money for charity over a period of more than 30 years.

She might have a terminal lung disease that leaves her struggling for breath, but that has not stopped Doreen Cochrane from working tirelessly to improve her community and raise money for charity over a period of more than 30 years.

Mrs Cochrane, who lives on St Stephen's Square in the city centre with her border collie Bosun, is the Home Watch co-ordinator for her area.

Since the 62-year-old moved there 37 years ago, she has helped to save the Vauxhall Street post office, which was threatened with closure, reduce underage drinking, raise thousands of pounds for charity and been named community citizen of the year in the police's Norfolk Safer Community Awards.

She retired from the Home Watch post last year because of her emphysema, and said at the time: “I have been the co-ordinator for 22 years but I can't carry on my health is too bad. Everyone keeps saying I'll be back, but I won't this time.”

But it took just three weeks for the community-minded grandmother to be reinstated after her successor, teenager Abdiya Meddings, found it too difficult juggling the job with her school work to continue.

Mrs Cochrane knows everyone in the square, and introduces herself whenever anyone moves in, telling them to come to her with any neighbourhood concerns. As a result, she is frequently visited by members of the Lakenham and Tuckswood Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) as part of their work finding out about local issues.

She said: “For years I've been trying to get underage drinking stopped around this area and we've combated that. We've got signs up warning people that they will be arrested for drinking in public places.

“At the moment I am trying to help the lady who has just taken over the café, to think of ways she can develop the business.

“I think community spirit is so important - I don't just help people in the community but they help me too. Sometimes my condition means I can't go out and leaves me feeling depressed, and the fact that our community is so close-knit means I can give my neighbour a call and she will just pop round. I like to think I am part of what holds it all together.”

Mrs Cochrane, who used to run a charity shop in the square for East Anglia's Children's Hospices at Quidenham, has also done a charity skydive and appears regularly in the Lord Mayor's Procession to raise money for Pact animal sanctuary.

John Howarth, who helps Mrs Cochrane run the Home Watch, said: “She's a lovely lady - always very helpful and caring. She isn't a nosey neighbour but she's there when people need her. She knows everybody - when I moved to the square she came and introduced herself and made me feel very welcome.”

A charity evening with a raffle will be held at The Champion pub from 7pm on Friday, April 2 to raise money for the East Anglian Air Ambulance charity.

Do you know someone who could feature in our Good Neighbour campaign? Call reporter Sam Emanuel on 01603 772438 or email sam.emanuel@archant.co.uk.

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