Whitby volunteer’s late award is an early Christmas gift

Lisa O'Brien receives her Community Award from Cllr Robert Windass with (from left) volunteers Daryl Evans, Carly Anscombe, Samantha Abbott, Gemma Evans and Rebecca Potter.
Lisa O'Brien receives her Community Award from Cllr Robert Windass with (from left) volunteers Daryl Evans, Carly Anscombe, Samantha Abbott, Gemma Evans and Rebecca Potter.

Lisa O’Brien can’t do enough to help the people who use Eastside Community Centre in Whitby, but at the centre’s Christmas lunch the attention was on her as she received a belated award for her volunteer work.

Lisa organises dozens of events and activities in and around the centre and supports people who come in looking for help.

She is paid to work nine hours a week but puts in another 20 or more each week organising fundraising events, supporting people in difficulties and undertaking many little jobs. Lisa was named a runner-up in the Volunteer of the Year category in North Yorkshire County Council’s annual Community Awards, but a bout of ill health stopped her attending the awards presentation in October.

“I thought I had flu,” said Lisa, “but the next thing I knew I was in an ambulance with pneumonia, sepsis and kidney failure. “I was in hospital, including intensive care, for more than a week. I was really disappointed that I could not be at the awards.”

Lisa is well on the road to recovery now, so County Council Chairman, Cllr Robert Windass paid a visit to the Eastside Community Centre Christmas lunch, which Lisa helped to organise, to present her award.

“I was excited and it was really lovely to be recognised, but I don’t do it for the recognition,” said Lisa.

“I enjoy doing it. It makes me happy.

“I live in the community, so I know what people need.”

Lisa is involved in a wide range of activities, from children’s discos to coffee mornings, car boot sales and Whitby Seaside Community Marching Band, which she started in September and which already has 38 members aged three to 63.

The band has a busy programme of community events leading up to Christmas.

Lisa is also instrumental in a wellbeing group that meets at the centre on Mondays and welcomes anyone with anxiety, depression, other mental health issues or physical disabilities.

The group runs workshops in arts and crafts and baking.

The £250 prize money that accompanies Lisa’s runner-up award will go towards supporting this group.

Cllr Windass said: “I’m delighted to have been able to hand over her award and see some of her good work in action.”