Ada, 91: “I have no intention of stopping volunteering”

Ada Vincent. Photo courtesy of the Swindon Advertiser

Ada Vincent is a shining example of how helping others can also be a good way of helping yourself, as she tells Sarah Brealey. Plus, listen to her talking about her experiences in the Dutch Resistance.

Ada, 91, started volunteering in the BHF shop in Swindon after her husband, Jim, died 11 years ago. “I felt a bit lost, and volunteering was an escape, a way to make friends. You feel like you are still somebody in the community,” she says.

“I look forward to Saturdays. I get enormous pleasure out of it, I really do. You meet so many people. Even when I am out shopping on my own, I meet people that I know from the shop and say hello.”

Ada is no stranger to dealing with bereavement, having also lost her younger son in an accident when he was a teenager. She says she often recommends volunteering to other people who have lost a partner. “It takes you out to the house. I often say to people, do something, don’t sit there staring into space. Life goes on. Don’t stop – it’s much too easy to sit indoors and stare at four walls.”

Be happy with what you have and get on with it

Ada, who has one son and two adult grandsons, was married to Jim for nearly 45 years, after they met in Holland in 1944. Jim was in the Royal Engineers and Ada, who was a member of the Dutch Resistance, was celebrating New Year’s Eve with her family when they met.

Now she lives on her own and does all her own housework, washing, cooking and shopping. The only allowance she has made for her advancing years is that her garden – which used to be her pride and joy – has been adapted so it is easier to maintain, and her son John looks after it for her. “I am quite well,” says Ada. “I have a bit of a problem with an irregular heartbeat and my breathing, so I have to take it a bit slowly. But I just sit down for a minute if I need to.

Ada’s advice to other people is: “Be happy with what you have and get on with it.

“I’ve always been an independent person. I have no intention of stopping volunteering, and I would recommend it to anyone.”

Find out more about volunteering

Call into your local BHF shop or Furniture & Electrical store and ask about volunteering opportunities or visit our volunteering web page. To find your nearest shop, call 0800 915 3000.

Our shops always need volunteers, especially in September when we have our biggest stock campaign. We also need you to donate your unwanted items to help raise money for our life-saving research.

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