A VOLUNTEER has received a national accolade for her work to combat isolation among elderly people living in Ramsbottom.

Hazel Water, a parishioner of St Andrew’s Church, has helped to find older people, who lack opportunities to socialise, to join their monthly tea party.

Hazel, who lives in Edgworth, was put forward by church members for the ‘Janet Atfield Award’ from Contact the Elderly, a charity which runs the tea parties in partnership with the church.

She will travel to London to receive her award, and a cheque for £250. today.

She says she will spend the money on giving members of her group a treat.

Hazel, who works part-time as a teacher in Middleton, said: “I was a bit shocked to win and very surprised.

“But I was really pleased.

“It isn’t just about me. We have a huge team who help and are involved.”

The group was set up in September last year and is made up of about 25 older people, mostly in their 80s and 90s, who are taken to, and from, the event by volunteers.

Members of the group are referred, usually by health services, or by neighbours or family, who think they could benefit from getting out of the house and socialising.

Hazel says she was inspired to get involved by experiencing the isolation that older people can feel, first hand.

She added: “I had a real passion for the elderly. I was a carer for my parents, so I know what it is like.

“People can become more and more isolated, and they don’t come along to things unless they are taken to it.

“I feel, as a church, we needed to do something for the community, and it was a small thing we can do to help people who need assistance.”

The curate at St Andrew’s, the Rev Steve Openshaw, who nominated Hazel, said: “She is just brilliant – brilliant at organising the tea parties and getting the members together.

“And the tea parties themselves are great.

“When you speak to the families of the members, they tell you about the difference it has made to the lives of their relatives.

“The award reflects Hazel’s work, and the great team.”