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Joan gets Bob Ellwood Memorial Award

PUBLISHED: 16:34 17 April 2008 | UPDATED: 07:20 01 August 2010

AN 87 year old woman who served the Beccles Waveney Centre in New Market for 25 years has this week been awarded the Robert "Bob" Ellwood Memorial Award for Outstanding Service to the Community of Beccles.

AN 87 year old woman who served the Beccles Waveney Centre in New Market for 25 years has this week been awarded the Robert “Bob” Ellwood Memorial Award for Outstanding Service to the Community of Beccles.

Joan Lawrence, of St Anne's Close, had worked in the canteen at the Centre since 1983 until February this year, when her eyesight forced her to finish.

She had no idea that she was getting the accolade until Tuesday night when she was presented with a memorial plate at Beccles Town Hall.

This year the Waveney Centre celebrates its 40th anniversary, and Joan had been under the impression that she was coming to a meeting about the celebrations.

On Wednesday morning Joan said: “It was such a surprise to get the award, I never even thought I would get such a thing.

“I couldn't go to sleep for a long time last night because I couldn't stop thinking about it. It was a lovely shock and so nice to be appreciated.”

There were seven nominations for the award, which has been running for five years. It was set up in memory of Robert Ellwood, a Beccles Town Councillor who served the town from the '60s to the late '90s and died at the beginning of this decade.

Joan, whose name will now be added to the platter of winners displayed at the Town Hall, moved from Bungay to Beccles with her husband Norman in 1983 after they had both retired, Joan having worked for Clays Printers in Bungay for much of her working life.

She said: “When we first came to Beccles in July 1983 my husband and I were asked if we would come and join the house committee at the Waveney Centre and we were quite agreeable to that.

“The house committee made all the food for events, apart from the sausage rolls. We put on two ploughmans lunches during the summer and we all served, and made tarts and things. It wasn't just a bit of bread and cheese, we really sat them down to a good meal.

“Then in the evening they often put on concerts and my husband and I would come and do refreshments.

We put on two ploughman's lunches during the summers.”

Joan and Norman would come and help out twice a week, until Norman sadly passed away in 1995.

“I felt like this award was as much for all the work he did as it was for me,” said Joan. “It was definitely a team effort. My husband was a man who always wanted to help in any way he could.”

After Norman died Joan carried on with her canteen duties until February this year, although she left the house committee two years after Norman died.

“If my eye sight had been as it should have been I probably would have carried on but I was finding it a bit difficult to deal with the money,” she said. “My daughter thought that, as I'm 87, it was time I gave up. I have very many happy memories and I'll still come to the centre. I'm sorry that I can't help them as I did.

“I will miss helping but it's out of my hands now. It was a pleasure.”

Faye Baldry, secretary and organiser at the Waveney Centre, said: “We're really pleased that she received it, and to get it for the Waveney Centre in our special year is great.”

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