Waltham Forest Echo

Waltham Forest Echo

Chingford volunteer befriender receives royal recognition

A spokesperson for Age UK says their befriending service "relies totally" on her hard work

Hero for Chingford volunteer befriender receives royal recognition
Marilyn Gould (credit: Age UK Waltham Forest)
By Waltham Forest Echo 10 July 2022

A 74-year-old volunteer from Chingford received royal recognition for her work befriending the borough’s most isolated residents.A 74-year-old volunteer from Chingford received royal recognition for her work befriending the borough’s most isolated residents.

Marilyn Gould, a volunteer with Age UK Waltham Forest, was one of 490 people selected to receive a Platinum Champion award in honour of the Queen’s jubilee.Marilyn Gould, a volunteer with Age UK Waltham Forest, was one of 490 people selected to receive a Platinum Champion award in honour of the Queen’s jubilee.

The awards were handed out by the Royal Voluntary Service and its president Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.The awards were handed out by the Royal Voluntary Service and its president Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

Marilyn joined the local charity’s befriending service in 2018 and, when demand sky-rocketed during lockdown, worked seven days a week reaching out to elderly residents, making more than one thousand calls in just three months. Marilyn joined the local charity’s befriending service in 2018 and, when demand sky-rocketed during lockdown, worked seven days a week reaching out to elderly residents, making more than one thousand calls in just three months. 

A spokesperson for Age UK said their befriending service “relies totally on Marilyn”, adding: “She is the first friendly, reassuring voice offering help to isolated, lonely older people. A spokesperson for Age UK said their befriending service “relies totally on Marilyn”, adding: “She is the first friendly, reassuring voice offering help to isolated, lonely older people. 

“After that first phone call, she is often able to write up their entire life story, bringing their story alive so that the paid staff can then match them with their long term befriender, who will visit them every week. “After that first phone call, she is often able to write up their entire life story, bringing their story alive so that the paid staff can then match them with their long term befriender, who will visit them every week. 

“No matter how shy, depressed, taciturn – or even suicidal -  the older person, Marilyn is able to draw them out and make them feel they are not alone.”“No matter how shy, depressed, taciturn – or even suicidal -  the older person, Marilyn is able to draw them out and make them feel they are not alone.”