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Volunteers’ Week 2020: Meet partners Barry & Audrey

Audrey Gisborne, 87, and her partner Barry Edwards, 82, met through volunteering at Yates Court in Evesham. Here, Audrey tells us their story.


“I have been a volunteer at Yates Court for 20 years. I was living on my own and I had too much time on my hands. I felt that I needed something to do. At the time my late husband lived at Yates Court, and when I came to visit him, I’d often find myself looking after the other residents. The ladies would approach me asking if I could help them to find their handbag or take them to the toilet. I could see that there was an opportunity for me to help, so I decided to volunteer and that’s how it all started.

A year later, Barry and his wife joined as volunteers, however she sadly passed away in December 2005. I was attracted to Barry’s kindness, and we were both lonely. We became friends, and the rest is history. We have now been together for 13 years.

We volunteer once a week on a Friday, and any other time we are needed. Our roles have consisted of many things over the years; from keeping the shop stocked each week and doing the flower arranging, to taking the staff to head office and helping with any other errands needed. Barry has even been the scheme’s father Christmas every year, which he loves!

What I enjoy the most about going to Yates Court is spending time with the people; the staff, the residents and the volunteers. There’s nothing I would change. I look forward to seeing them all and if I can say at the end of the day that I’ve done a good day’s work then I’m happy, and I know Barry feels the same.

I’ve had a wonderful time with Barry, we’ve travelled thousands of miles here and abroad and he introduced me to caravanning – which we still love. We’ve had many adventures and hope to have a lot more. We have been on many trips with Yates Court, from shows and pantomimes, to fishing and trips to the seaside – all our days out have been wonderful.

One of my most memorable holidays was in the first year of me being a volunteer. The scheme took a trip to Devon, and I remember there being thick snow when we got out of the coach. I went abseiling, rock climbing, canoeing, and I went down the zip wire. I’d never done any of those things before so that was an adventure. I started volunteering at Yates Court when I was 67 years old – most people retire at that age, but I’ve done more in my 20 years as a volunteer than what I’ve done in my whole life!

Unfortunately, Barry was diagnosed with cancer last year. Now we have this black cloud hanging over us. We’re trying to get the better of it, but we are there for each other through everything life puts our way. We are fighting and I’m with Barry every step of the way.

We spend most of our days in hospital now, we are there at least twice a week for around 8 hours but coming to Yates Court is our one thing that we focus on – it allows us to have a day of smiles. We look forward to meeting everyone each week, who we have become friends with over the years, they keep us going and hopefully volunteering keeps us young – here’s to the next 20 years!”