A woman who has dedicated the last 20 years to supporting local families and children has been praised ahead of a milestone birthday.

Joan Riddehough, who is turning 90 on September 24, is the oldest active volunteer at Home-Start Blackburn and Darwen which is a charity that supports communities in the area.

The charity, which is run by a group of volunteers with parenting experience, offers a ‘children in need’ family group at Wesley Hall in Blackburn, and Joan is one of the constant volunteers in the group.

Amanda Barrass, the manager at Home-Start, shared how much of a caring lady Joan is.

She said: “Joan plays with the children, talks to the parents, if there’s a party going on, she’ll bake scones and bring food.

"She’s just a lovely, lovely reliable and kind lady.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Joan Riddehough, volunteer at Home-Start Blackburn and DarwenJoan Riddehough, volunteer at Home-Start Blackburn and Darwen (Image: Home-Start)

Joan has her own children and grandchildren but she still makes time to help out every Thursday morning.

“This is something she looks forward to doing every week,” Amanda added. “The children at the group absolutely love her, they call her grandma.

“In this day and age, when you’ve got so much illness and disability, and I suppose a lack of motivation, you’ve got Joan who is a massive inspiration to other people.

"Just because you’re old in years, you don’t have to be old. Joan is very much a fit and active volunteer.”

Joan, who used to be a dinner lady at Lammack Primary School, has supported the charity for the past 20 years and sees her work as a full-time job and calling in life rather than volunteering.

Using two words to describe Joan, Amanda said the 89-year-old is an embodiment of ‘energy’ and spirit’.

She added: “She’s just full of positivity and she is very much like ‘just get on with it because you can’t let things in life get you down'.

"So, this work has been amazing for her mental health and her own wellbeing. And it’s amazing to have Joan around to lift our spirits.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Joan with the other volunteers at Home-Start Blackburn and DarwenJoan with the other volunteers at Home-Start Blackburn and Darwen (Image: Home-Start Blackburn and Darwen)

Home-Start volunteers provide emotional and practical support and friendship to families with at least one child under the age of seven, who could be experiencing loneliness, isolation, relationship difficulties, or ill health.

By doing so they represent a lifeline for many families when things are difficult.

This support can be enough to prevent things getting worse and so can possibly help avoid family breakdown.

Amanda shared that Joan is a brilliant example of what people of any age can achieve and do for the community and is urging anyone in the area to sign up.

If you are interested in volunteering, you can contact Amanda Barrass on 01254 692613 or visit the Home-Start website for more information.