Jane has been one of our Biggleswade residents for the last three years and a member of our Residents’ Voice customer engagement panel since April 2018.

A retired dental hygienist, 71 year old Jane comes from a family who like to help others. When her children were younger, their teacher knew a farmer who had a badger’s sett on his land. Jane went along and got hooked, joining a local badger group and years later, having moved to North Yorkshire, would take members of the public to a badger hide.

“I would give talks about badgers to schools and college groups, also many other groups including the WI and the Round Table. I joined the Friends of the Local Forest and we raised £28k from the lottery to have a new hide built.”

When Jane lived in a very rural part of North Yorkshire, her children were concerned for her health and wellbeing, wondering what might happen if there was an emergency.

“I got in touch with the local Community First Responders, run by the ambulance service, who were a group of volunteers trained to do CPR and use a defibrillator and oxygen in case of a heart attack. With there not being a local group, I was asked to start one. We distributed flyers to ask for volunteers and 12 people showed up to a meeting to find out what would be involved.”

A new group of nine Community First Responders, including Jane, came out of that meeting and received training once a month to make sure they were kept up-to-date with processes and procedures.

“We would take turns to be on call with the kit. As I didn’t drink at the time, I was popular so I held the kit all over Christmas and New Year. We made maps of the area so we knew who lived where.

“One time I received a call around 4am about a lady who had anaphylaxis; she had taken two lots of out of date medication and was finding it hard to breathe. Although she was remote, I knew where she lived. When I got there I calmed her down, gave her oxygen and sent her husband to stand at the end of the lane to meet the ambulance. When the paramedic arrived he gave her appropriate medication and said if I hadn’t have been there when I had, the woman would have died.

“When I moved away, the group carried on. That’s my legacy.”

At one of the badger conferences she went to, Jane met a gentleman who lives near to her.

“My friend is 85 and now has Parkinson’s disease. We enjoy forest walks and I help him with shopping and gardening. In return he teaches me about birds, wildlife and wildlife photography.

“When lockdown ends, I’d like to carry on with my talks about badgers; they get such a bad press. I want to show people the good side.”

Jane also likes helping the fellow residents in the scheme where she lives, organising the occasional fish and chip supper. At Christmas in 2018, Jane was kind enough to ask several residents who lived alone in her scheme if they’d like to join Jane and her daughters for Christmas lunch as she didn’t want them to spend Christmas alone.

“My latest volunteering work is sewing scrubs for the NHS. A lady at a pub that can’t be open at the moment takes in donated duvet covers and sheets from people. She washes and irons them, cuts out the patterns and then they’re passed to me and others for sewing. It’s really nice to be able to give something back.”

Jane also enjoys her involvement with Grand Union’s Residents’ Voice panel.

“Having never worked in an office, I never knew the office jargon and the way companies work. I find it fascinating. I was on the panel interviewing Board members for Grand Union. Being a resident and being able to ask questions of the candidates, I found that really interesting.

“I come from a family that’s into doing charity work, I just like doing things for others. I guess it runs in the family!

“I’ve been through my fair share of personal trauma and Grand Union has given me security. My children like where I live and they know I’m safe and secure. My life is settled and I feel content.

“For anyone considering volunteering, it’s a great way to give back to the community and at the same time, you’ll be making new friends.”