Royal reception at Clarence House for 'devoted' Banbury volunteer

Avis Gallager (in the centre of the back row with a black jacket) along with celebrities and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall at the Royal Voluntary Service's reception at Clarence House. Photo: Michael Crabtree
Avis Gallager (in the centre of the back row with a black jacket) along with celebrities and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall at the Royal Voluntary Service's reception at Clarence House. Photo: Michael Crabtree

A 'devoted' 70-year-old volunteer from Banbury brushed shoulders HRH The Duchess of Cornwall and other distinguished guests at Clarence House last week.

Avis Gallager was invited to the special service in London after seven years of running a dance club at the Cornhill Centre in Banbury and her work ensuring older people are not lonely.

The event was being held to mark the launch of the Royal Voluntary Service's Our Amazing People campaign - that celebrates the talents and skills of older people and the contribution they make to society, particularly those who volunteer.

A select number of Royal Voluntary Service volunteers were invited to join the reception, which was also attended by a number of well-known faces including RVS ambassadors Dame Patricia Routledge, Felicity Kendal, Wayne Sleep and others.

Avis said: “I thoroughly enjoyed meeting everyone at Clarence House; there were lots of really interesting people and plenty of opportunity to mingle.

"I would recommend volunteering to anyone, it gives me a deep personal sense of satisfaction seeing people make improvements in their health and friendships.

"An added bonus is there are many opportunities to make friends with fellow volunteers, seek advice and give encouragement.”

Since March, Avis has also taken on the role of co-ordinator for the charity’s Community Companions service, matching volunteers with older people who are lonely, socially isolated, or in need of practical help.

Each year, Royal Voluntary Service’s 25,000 volunteers, a significant number of whom are over 65, gift 500,000 working days to their communities through their voluntary service.

RVS chief executive Catherine Johnstone CBE said: “Our volunteers do wonderful things in their communities, often without getting the recognition they deserve, so we were delighted to be able to invite Avis to attend this celebration at Clarence House.

"Avis devotes a great deal of her time to Royal Voluntary Service and it’s this sort of commitment that makes the difference to thousands of lives of older people throughout Great Britain.”

“Over the next few months the charity will be launching a drive to recruit more volunteers, many of whom we hope will be older.

"We will be offering them support to set up clubs and activities to support their local communities.”

Royal Voluntary Service is one of Britain’s largest volunteering charities with over 25,000 volunteers supporting over 100,000 older people each month in hospitals and the community.

The focus is on building confidence lives, improving well-being and keeping loneliness at bay through an array of social activities and more structured support.

The charity is also one of the largest retailers in the NHS, with its network of cafes and shops.

If you are interested in volunteering, visit www.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk/volunteer or get in touch with the Banbury RVS Hub by emailing oxfordshirehub@royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk or calling 01295 264214.