Irene was born in France in 1922, the youngest of six children. Her mother was French-Italian, while her English father ran a business exporting brandy and wine.
When she was 14, Irene moved to England to continue her education, before joining her father two years later in the Far East. In 1939 Irene’s father was told that the Germans were advancing and they should leave France as soon as possible. Having gathered a few possessions, they managed to catch a cattle boat out.
They arrived in Falmouth with hundreds of other refugees, where they were given hot tea and a warm welcome by Royal Voluntary Service volunteers .
She honoured the promise she’d made at 17 and started volunteering for Royal Voluntary Service in Fleet, Hampshire.
She visited older people who struggled to get out of the house to shop or socialise. Community Companions like Irene, support older people to be safe, well and independent, by providing practical help and valuable company.
Irene took a great interest in everyone she supported, listening to their stories and getting to know them as individuals. She was aware that sometimes she was the only person these men and women saw all week – and they looked forward to her visits.
The legacy Irene left, endures. It lives on in the values of her children and grandchildren – many of whom have gone on to volunteer themselves - and in the memories of her friends, family and neighbours, who remember her as compassionate, friendly, generous and thoughtful.
"My mother would have thoroughly approved of lunch clubs benefitting from the money she donated to Royal Voluntary Service. She would be delighted she was able to make a difference."
Irene's son, Edmund who is delighted that his mother is still having a positive influence on others, even though she’s no longer here
Without people like Irene, leaving a gift in their Will, we wouldn’t be able to provide a wide range of services and support in the community. She made a difference to the people she gave up her time to support, throughout her long and interesting life as a volunteer. And she’s still making an impact on the lives of people in her local community, through her legacy.
You too, can ensure that people get the support they need in their homes, in the community and during a stay in hospital. Along with Irene, people who choose to support in this way, continue to be remembered as someone who helped others.
Image: Irene (for left) with her Mother, brother and sisters.