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UNSUNG HERO AWARD: Val has a drive to help others
SELFLESS volunteer Val Hemmens is the third winner of the Adver’s Unsung Hero awards for her work helping friends and others in the community.
The retired BT worker, of Common Platt, plays the organ at various churches in Swindon, performs on the piano at care homes and also drives friends to hospital appointments or to the shops.
She was presented with the prize – a bunch of flowers provided by George Lesley Flowers – after being nominated by her friend Steph Giles, of Toothill, who is among those who benefit from her kindness.
Val said: “When somebody rang me on Friday I was absolutely gobsmacked. I said ‘Have you got the right person?’ and she said ‘Yes.’ “Reading about what other people have done, I thought I haven’t done anything like that so I was quite amazed.”
Val has played piano at Holy Trinity Church, in Shaw, where she is a member of the congregation, since 1989.
Now she plays the hymns every Sunday morning. She also occasionally plays at other local churches.
On top of this, she does regular sessions at local care homes, where she plays hymns on the piano to the delight of the the elderly residents, as well as a regular sing-song at Lydiard Tregose Mothers’ Union.
The rest of her time is partly taken up driving friends and neighbours, who cannot drive themselves, to hospital appointments, or to the shops, as well as ferrying their pets to the vets.
She also takes Steph out on regular social outings.
“I take her shopping,” said Val. “We go around, we have a chat, a little meal. “Perhaps go up to a garden centre or something like that or further afield on a Wednesday.”
Val, who retired early 10 years ago, looked after her father Cecil Hemmens until the end of his life and said she had more time to help others following his death, aged 88, in 2007.
“As long as I can drive I will continue to help people,” she said. “I just like to help people if people haven’t got cars or they go on the buses.
“I just feel like I want to do my bit and as long as I can drive I will keep on.”
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