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Vital services could be under threat

PUBLISHED: 23:08 20 February 2002 | UPDATED: 11:24 03 March 2010

VITAL services to Woodbridge and surrounding villages could be under threat if more volunteers can not be found.

Several departments at the Red Cross, based in Theatre Street might have to close down if more people cannot spare just a few hours a week to keep it going, centre manager Bridget Rayner has warned.

VITAL services to Woodbridge and surrounding villages could be under threat if more volunteers can not be found.

Several departments at the Red Cross, based in Theatre Street might have to close down if more people cannot spare just a few hours a week to keep it going, centre manager Bridget Rayner has warned.

The problem has been caused by rules laid down by the Red Cross insurance company who will not insure people over set ages in certain departments.

Elisabeth Terry has worked on and off for the Red Cross since the 1930's and has been working one day a week at the Woodbridge branch for the past five years.

But now the former teacher is in her 80's she is being forced to give up her job in the Medical Loans section because the age limit for her to be insured is 85-years-old.

Sharp minded and fit, she enjoys her work and said she is perfectly capable of continuing, but is now being forced into retirement.

Mrs Rayner said that the work Miss Terry does is absolutely vital to the rest of the community.

Medical Loans involves hiring out equipment such as walking frames and wheelchairs that users would not necessarily be able to get from the NHS.

But the service might disappear if volunteers cannot be found to run it.

The Woodbridge branch serves a huge area – Eyke, Dallinghoo, Hollesley, Kesgrave, Martlesham, Otley and Nacton are just some of the areas included.

Other services run from the branch include therapeutic sessions for people who have been in hospital, perhaps suffering from stroke.

There are also groups for disabled and elderly people as well as the first aid volunteers who attend public events such as fetes and concerts.

But many of the volunteers who help out at the various groups are aged between 70 or 80 and will have to leave within the next year or so, making it imperative that enough volunteers can be found as soon as possible.

Drivers for the ambulances and mini-buses are also in short supply as they have to be below the age of 75.

Mrs Rayner said: "In medical loans it can sometimes be very busy so people have to be here, but it comes and goes.

"If Elisabeth goes and someone else leaves there will only be two of us running the whole thing.

"It is only a few hours a week to work."

Anyone who can spare time during the week to help keep the service afloat should contact Mrs Rayner at the British Red Cross, 32 Theatre Street, Woodbridge, IP12 4NE or call 01394 382614/01473 736671.

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