Out of Hours Club volunteer and Voluntary Action Rutland volunteer from Oakham given British Empire Medals in Queen's New Year's Honours List
An enthusiastic volunteer from Oakham has been awarded a British Empire Medal for services to the community.
Jacqui Darlington has played an important role in improving the lives of more than 40 adults with additional needs living in the county.
Six years ago Jacqui set up the Out of Hours Club after realising that once young people turn 18 support decreases and out of hours help stops.
The group enables people over 18 with additional needs to enjoy ‘grown up’ activities and learn to behave appropriately in adult situations, use public transport, handle money and interact.
Jacqui, an ambassador for Carers UK, said: “I’ve got a special needs son myself and I’m not happy with him just watching TV or playing video games when he comes home. That’s where it started from.
“I conversed with other parent carers who were fed up of seeing this situation.”
Jacqui left her job at a nursery in 2012 to become a full-time carer for her son Joshua.
“Because I gave up working to do this I became isolated and lonely and had lost all my friendships I had,” she said.
Jacqui co-ordinates activities for the group as well as transporting members around, which gives other parent carers a break.
She has also been on the board of Rutland Healthwatch since 2015 to provide a voice for people with additional needs and is now the vice-chairman.
Jacqui, who found out about the award in November, has struggled keeping it quiet.
The 60-year-old said: “It’s been so hard as I want to cheer people up. At the moment everyone is so down with people not able to do what they want so I want to say ‘guess what I’m getting?’.”
She added: “A whole range of emotions went though me when I read the e-mail. I had to read it twice as I didn’t understand and was thinking it’s a scam.”
Arthur Sains, who lives in Oakham, was also awarded a British Empire Medal for his services to the community in Rutland.
Arthur said since finding out via a phone call it has been easy to keep it a secret from his wife Elizabeth, who also received a BEM four years ago, despite spending everyday with her.
The 79-year-old began his volunteering journey when he moved to the county in 2001 after retiring from a career in the agricultural industry.
Arthur said: “Retiring at 60 I had several useful years of life left and so I wanted to give something back to society.”
After spotting an advert in the paper, Arthur began helping out with Voluntary Action Rutland transporting elderly people around in a mini-bus. Since then he has gone on to become a trustee with the charity.
The father-of-one also volunteers for the LOROS shop in Oakham, which raises funds to support people who are terminally ill, and at the Rutland Museum looking after the agricultural machinery.
He said: “I have had a good life and done many things together with my wife but we have a number of friends, particularly in the hospice sector who have had to make use of the
Arthur added: “You don’t volunteer for any recognition but it is nice that somebody, whoever it is, has nominated me. I’m very pleased.”