Selfless, kind, and a true inspiration to us all - just some of the words that have been used to describe much-loved 83-year-old Enid Bickerstaffe, who has just retired from volunteering at a Ripon playgroup after more than 27 years of devoted service.
Enid has poured her heart into running the Twiglets playgroup at Allhallowgate Methodist Church, and has become widely admired and respected by the generations of families she has nurtured.
In fact, many people who were taken to the playgroup as a child have often returned as an adult with their own children - a clear indication of the high regard that Enid is held in across the city.
Volunteers at the playgroup, as well as the community of mums and children who go along to Twiglets, surprised Enid with gifts and thank you cards when they heard she was leaving.
Overwhelmed by everyone’s kindness, Enid said: “It’s been a joy and a great privilege to volunteer at the playgroup. I’ve loved getting to know the mums over the years, and I’ve always loved working with children.
“You watch the children grow and get more confident, getting used to being around other children, then moving on to primary school and second school. It’s just wonderful to see them grow.
“As I say, I’ve loved being a part of the group, but everything has to come to an end, and I felt it was time to hand over to someone else.” Enid has been no stranger to volunteering outside of this role, either - she also volunteered for Age UK for 17 years.
Jodi Champion, who first met Enid when she had her daughter nearly eight years ago, said: “Enid is a marvellous lady who has cared and supported many people over the last 27 years.
“Enid has been a lifeline to the community - she has supported and prayed for myself and other mothers when children have been severely sick needing hospital attention.
“I still go to the playgroup now with my two younger children, and I have met many great friends through it, who we continually socialise with and support when in need. I go to many playgroups in Ripon, nearly a different one every day, and this is by far my favourite.”
More kind words and messages of thanks are continuing to flood in for Enid.
Twiglets playgroup runs on Fridays during term time at Allhallowgate Methodist Church, 1.30pm to 3pm.