Joan DouglasJoan Douglas may be 83 but she is as sprightly as ever and her volunteering days are far from over.

A former Daisy Chain Trustee for 13 years from when the charity was founded – Joan can still be found regularly volunteering in the Daisy Chain superstore sorting and pricing stock for sale.

When founder Lesley Hanson was in the process of setting up Daisy Chain, she was put in touch with Joan by another volunteer, Ros Marshall. Ros believed that Joan who had been a social worker in the fostering and adoption field for over 28 years working in Redcar and Cleveland and Middlesbrough, would be a valuable addition to the charity.

With Joan’s knowledge of the care system processes and procedures, she was indeed an ideal trustee and Lesley asked her to come on board to help get the charity up and running.

Joan explains, “I saw my role as the social worker, to be able to advise the charity how the care system worked on the ground. Being a trustee was a big responsibility but I loved working with everyone involved.”

“To start with there was only the farmhouse and at that point I couldn’t have dreamed how much Daisy Chain would grow. It’s truly wonderful to see how Lesley’s legacy has carried on and flourished. Lesley had the enthusiasm and vision to achieve all that – she was a big loss to Daisy Chain in its infancy. We had to get through that time as best we could.”

Helping people is extremely important to Joan, “I didn’t know anything about autism when I first started at Daisy Chain, it wasn’t something that was widely understood. I had to learn about the children and their needs plus the support the parents needed, it was important to understand that and be true to Lesley’s original vision and work with the other trustees to make sure the charity was run efficiently.” Since then Joan has a lot more experience – the mum of four has eight grandchildren and her eldest grandchild received a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome at 19 years old.

As well as gifting her expertise, Joan has also always been keen to roll up her sleeves and get stuck in to some hard work, “Every week I would go up and spend some time weeding the garden near the pond, it was peaceful and relaxing.” As well as being a keen gardener, Joan has always been happy behind a trolley serving teas and coffees for the parents at the Links support group.

Getting the day centre built is one of Joan’s major milestones, “That was amazing seeing it built and paid for – some of it brick by brick as people bought a brick to raise funds. It was marvellous to be a part of Daisy Chain, I was there all the time doing something to help out.”

Joan was involved when Daisy Chain decided to open a Superstore on Portrack Lane, “That was really successful very quickly as so many people started to see what we do and began offering donations. The first shop was very soon too small so we had to negotiate for the larger store we have now and seeing that grow has given me the best memories.”

And Joan is still there now making more memories, volunteering in the store plus she will always be found on the cake stall on the annual open day, “Knowing Lesley was a privilege,” she smiles, “so I will help out for as long as I can.”

20th March 2018