The Centre was founded in 1984 as a joint enterprise of a number of local churches: St James Pangbourne, St Bernadettes Pangbourne, United Reform Church Pangbourne, St Mary’s Purley and St Stevens, Upper Basildon. We were soon joined by all our Parish Councils and were supported by Berkshire County Council Social Services Department. At first it was very informal but we soon realised that it needed to be put on a sound basis.
This is an article published in Purley Parish News in 1986
The Pangbourne and District Volunteer Centre was established at a public meeting held on 28th March 1984. A committee of management was elected with the Reverend John Morrison of Upper Basildon as Chairman. The Centre will cover the area of the Pangbourne surgery – i.e. the Parishes of Pangbourne, Purley, Whitchurch, Basildon, Tidmarsh, Sulham and parts of the neighbouring villages. The centre will be set up in a room behind the United Reform Church, Reading Road, Pangbourne. It will maintain lists of volunteers in all areas who have offered their services and will put them in touch with people who phone in for assistance or who are referred either by the Surgery or any other organisation – e.g. Churches, Parish Councils or Social Services. Initially the phone will be manned for two mornings a week and the service will be extended as the Centre develops. All local Churches and Parish Councils have contributed to the setting up of the Centre, but it plans to be fully self financing in the future with fund raising events. The Centre urgently needs to build up an initial pool of volunteers whose first duties will be mainly manning the phone and and providing drivers to take people to shops, schools, hospitals etc. Anyone who can help is asked to get in touch with the organiser, Mrs Margaret Radnidge, 4 Dunluce Gardens – Tel: Pangbourne 3507, myself John Chapman 5 Cecil Aldin Drive – Tel: Reading 26999 or County Councillor Frank Lewis Tel: Pangbourne 2783. No matter how small a contribution you could make, even as little as one hour a month to address envelopes would be gratefully appreciated.
Initially we tackled a wide variety of tasks, we had a group of sixth formers from Pangbourne College who would cut people’s lawns and do odd gardening jobs,we took people to shops and entertainment, took children to schools and visited people in their homes to relieve carers for a while. Sadly we soon had to restrict our activities to driving to medical appointments and a few other tasks, partly because we could not cope with the demand but also to comply with legislation surrounding care of vulnerable persons.
Since the closure of the United Reform Church we moved to an office in Pangbourne Village Hall which we share with St James’ Church.
Our two co-organisers, Jane Rowberry and Ian Bruce together with our secretary, Ann MacIver, do the majority of the administration required. This involves drawing up rosters of volunteers to man the office and vetting new volunteers.
We try to keep in touch with our parishioners via the several magazines that circulate.