Volunteer celebrated for 40 years of keeping community spirit alive
- Credit: Saffron Housing Trust
The selfless work of a volunteer who has been the lynchpin of community spirit amongst his neighbours for four decades has been celebrated as he prepares to step down.
Bob Shields has clocked up almost 40 years of giving his time as chairman of the Taylor Road Residents' Association in Diss, doing everything from organising charity events to running trips to the seaside to overseeing activities at the local community hall.
"I've been the designated chairman, cleaner, I do all the banking and the bookings - it's handy, because I'm here to do it," he said. "But it's now got to the stage where I feel it's a good idea to step down. I'm going to be 80 in January, so I decided to call a halt."
Mr Shields has served as chairman since the Residents' Association's humble beginnings when it met in a Roman Catholic Chapel in Diss in the 1980s.
It now meets in a dedicated hall on Taylor Road, where it oversees a wide variety of activities including a weekly bingo game, playgroup and a number of local clubs. It also organises regular trips to the coast, the End of the Pier show in Cromer and other venues, and raises funds for local charities.
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In 2017, Bob's long service was recognised with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the South Norfolk Community Awards, organised by South Norfolk Council.
Going forward, he will reduce his day-to-day responsibilities while continuing to provide leadership in the Residents' Association. To recognise his long service and numerous contributions to the area, the Residents' Association held a special celebration.
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Saffron Housing Trust, which took over ownership of the Taylor Road Community Centre in 2005, praised Mr Shields and the rest of the committee for helping to maintain a link between the trust and the local community.
"We're incredibly grateful to Bob for his many years of service and hope that his reduced responsibilities give him some time for some well-earned relaxation," said Emilie Hildreth, community foundation manager at Saffron Housing Trust.
"Our volunteers provide such a valuable role at Saffron and I would appeal to anyone who would be able to spare any time to contact us and see how they could get involved."
And as he steps back from some of his responsibilities, Bob is appealing to other local members of the community to get involved.
He said: "We've sometimes muddled through with the minimum amount of committee members, but we've always been there. We hire the hall out and we hold functions in there. The committee is an opportunity to make a real difference where you live."
- Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer should contact Bob Shields on 01379 644847.