Woodcote Volunteers 40th Anniversary

Woodcote Volunteers celebrated 40 years of service by hosting a cheese and wine reception on Friday 3rd February 2023. In attendance were volunteers, past and present, along with some service users and representatives from the local councils and other service providers.

It was heartening to hear from so many speakers within and outside our charity, that we are thought of as being kind, highly regarded and so essential, so thank you everyone for your amazing contribution to Woodcote Volunteers.

We were graced by the presence of young gentlemen from The Oratory School who provided wonderful musical entertainment!

Read more about the 40th anniversary celebration by clicking here

Woodcote Volunteers History

Woodcote Volunteers history - a grateful client is being assisted by our volunteer driver, Chris Riches, in about 1984

Woodcote Volunteers history. The origins of Woodcote Volunteers date back to September 1981 when the idea for a volunteer driver scheme was first mooted by Dr. A Wilson to Mrs Elsie Taylor, when he asked her “why can’t we do something about the lack of transport to and from the village?” The idea took hold, and, as a result, on 1st February 1983, the office was opened, initially to provide transport to medical appointments, dentists, lunch clubs, shops, etc. to local residents who were without a car.  Interestingly, the volunteers consisted of many young mothers as well as residents who had retired.

For example, the photo here shows one of our grateful clients being assisted by our volunteer driver, Chris Riches, in about 1984.

In addition, only a year later, we were also offering to collect prescriptions and pensions.  As a result, there were regular shopping excursions to Savacentre in Calcot. 

Woodcote Volunteers history – 1993

Forward to 1993…..The following photo shows some of our volunteers, supporters and funders at our ten-year anniversary about to enjoy a celebratory cake!

Front row of 5 – Pam Tovey *, Joy Aldridge *, Elsie Taylor *, Jackie Widdows *, Janice Allen *

Second row of 4 – Joan Adam *, Dorothy Baty *, Betty Hayter *, Beryl Riches *

Third row of 4 – Brenda Malerbi *, three hidden

Back row of 7 – Rev Cyril Rogers, John Baty *, Bernard Malerbi *, Ray Ballanger *, unknown, Chris Riches *, Ann Lidiard *

* = Woodcote Volunteer

It is worth noting here, that Jackie Widdows (pictured in the front row) was, from the start, at the heart of the volunteers.  Apart from being the treasurer, she really looked after all the old people in the village and eventually was awarded an MBE for her charitable services. Joy Aldridge was also very influential in the Volunteers from the beginning.  As a result, she was awarded an OBE for her charity work. 

Problems of loneliness with Sheila Gray

It is sad to see that loneliness was as much of an issue back in 1983 as it is now, as the newspaper article from that year demonstrates.

Unfortunately, loneliness and isolation are still very much a live issue.  However, to try to combat isolation in our rural communities, we are urging people who are lonely or isolated to use our drivers to take them to social and recreational activities so they can get out and meet others.

Norma Albin

We had the good fortune to be able to interview Norma Albin, who was first a driver, then an office helper, from 1985 to 2019. She recollects being very happy at the office and became close friends with many of the other volunteers and enjoyed chatting to the various clients who regularly called.  She and her co-worker “put the world to rights” during their one-and-a-half-hour session and she says that volunteering gave her a sense of purpose, of doing something useful.

The photo shows Norma on the left, with her friend and colleague from the office, Lynn Paskins, in 1996.

Winning the Community Star Award in 2010

Woodcote Volunteers history - Winning the Community Star Award in 2010

As a result of their great work, the Woodcote Volunteers won the Community Star Award in 2010 for the “significant contribution made by Woodcote Volunteers to enrich the lives of local people”.  The award was presented by the High Sherriff of Oxfordshire.

“Times they are a-changin”…………..

…….. and most “young mothers” are now working full time, so our volunteers are largely, although not exclusively, retired or semi-retired. Although we still use a paper-based system in our office, this is bound to change to a computer-based system in the future. We have set up this web site, communicate with our volunteers by email and have posts on social media.

We have had to adapt to new legal requirements, for example, DBS checks for our drivers.  Policies have been put in place to fulfil the obligations that the Charity Commission places on the trustees.  

                 …………….….but our core values and mission have not!

Still recruiting

Recruiting new drivers and office staff for the Woodcote Volunteers

Still helping with transport

Woodcote Volunteers continues to develop and build on the strong foundations laid down by the original members.





Dr. A Wilson 1983 – 1994
Dr. S Richards 1994 – 2011
Dr. A Rowe    2011 – 2019
Dr. A Gemill   2019 – 2021
H McBride   2021 – present

J Widdows 1983 – 2006
K Ison 2006 – present



E Taylor 1983 – 1988
P Shanks 1988 – 1998
K Ashby 1998 – 2005
R Wilson 2005 – 2009

Terri Everitt 2009 – 2010

J Crowther 2010 -2014
E Harrap 2014 – 2021
K Groom 2021 – 2021
J Forde 2021 – present

Woodcote Volunteers History: The Committee Members:

Mrs J Aldridge 1983 -2011 Mrs I Lawmon 1993 – present Mrs V Nowell 2008 – 2019
Mrs C Arnold 1983 – 1998 Mr J Baty 1995 – 2006 Mrs C Chant 2011 – present
Mrs J Derbyshire 1983 – 1984 Mrs I Bowen 1997 – 1997 Miss E Harrap 2014 – present
Rev. T Henderson 1983 – 1986 Mrs N Albin 1998 – 2001 Mr J Hatt 2021 – present
Mrs B Hives 1983 – 1987 Mrs J Back 1998 – 2002 Mr D Allan 2021 – present
Mrs A Lidiard 1983 – 1999 Rev. N Moss 1999 – 2005 K G Harding 2022 – present
Mrs M Weller 1983 – 2019 Mrs E Thompson 2001- 2008  
Mrs G Goodwin 1984 – 1988 Mrs M Watters 2001 – present  
Mrs R Bowdery 1985 -1998  Mr S Palling 2002 – 2010  
Mrs B Hayter 1987 -2003 Mr R Green 2004 – 2006  
Rev C Rogers 1988 -1990 Mr K Ashby 2005 – 2007  
Mrs G Scott 1988 -1990 Mr/Mrs Harris 2006 – 2008  
Mrs E Taylor 1988 -1998 Mr P Tyler 2006 -2011  
Mrs P Hopkins 1988 -1998 Mr M Young 2006 – 2007  
Mrs D Jukes 1990 -1999 Mrs T Everett 2008 -2011