At the grand age of 95, sprightly Joan Rose is probably the oldest volunteer in Milton Keynes – and maybe even in the whole county.
Born in 1924, Joan spent time in a children’s home in London before she was adopted at 10 months old by a family in Coventry.
She moved to Newport Pagnell when she was 16, to avoid the bombing of the Midlands city. She met her husband, Sidney, in the town and they had six children; five sons and a daughter.
Her volunteering began when she helped to set up and later run a mother and toddler group at the town’s United Reform Church. She was involved in the group for seven years and went on to volunteer at Pagnell Grange (now Westbury Grange) before starting at The Brooklands Centre nearly 40 years ago.
Joan has been volunteering at the centre ever since. She still lives in Newport Pagnell and donates her time by helping out at the Monday Day Club, a social group for elderly residents of the town, most of whom are much younger than Joan herself.
She is picked up at 8am and works until about 4pm, preparing the lunches and serving refreshments. Joan is known at the club as the ‘onion lady’ as she’s the only one who can peel and chop the onions without crying!
Joan has also run stalls and tombolas for the centre and was The Brooklands Carnival Queen in the 2018 Newport Pagnell Carnival when she took up her regal position in the front seat of the Centre’s mini-bus in the parade.
In 2012, she was one of four ‘Golden Girl’ Brooklands volunteers presented with the Milton Keynes Pride in the Community Award.
She takes a rest from her volunteering (but not from The Brooklands Centre) when she has lunch each week at the Centre’s Tuesday Pop-In. She enjoys meeting her friends there and being waited on by some of the Centre’s other 70 volunteers.
Joan, who still has a sharp mind and still walks around town, said: “The Brooklands Centre is a wonderful place to go. It’s so friendly and full of smiling faces; there’s such a fantastic atmosphere. I get on well with the other volunteers and I love to help out.”
The Brooklands Centre has been providing community services for the over-55s since the 1950s. Totally re-built in 2010, the centre is a busy charity run by volunteers. Its core aim is to provide for older residents in the area and help people to retain their independence, live in their own homes and remain in the local community.