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Tonbridge pensioner volunteers for Operation Christmas Child in Tunbridge Wells to combat loneliness

A 91-year-old woman from Tonbridge is combating her loneliness by volunteering for a festive charity.

Joyce Alcock, of Severn Road, has dedicated more than 16 hours of her time helping Operation Christmas Child (OCC) - a charity scheme which sees thousands of shoeboxes filled with gifts distributed to children across the world.

Joyce Alcock helps check boxes for the charity
Joyce Alcock helps check boxes for the charity

She sits at a table in the warehouse in High Street and opens every single donation to see if they are age-appropriate.

She said she enjoys being part of the organisation as it helps her feel less lonely.

"I very much enjoy it. Otherwise, I would be alone in my house for four days out of seven. It gets me out.

"Volunteers can be any age as long as they can use their hands. I find it is no good sitting at home. You still have your pain, so why not come out and do something useful?"

She also knits hats and gloves in the run up to Christmas which she puts in the packages.

This year she has made 40 matching sets.

Joy Baker, the prayer coordinator for OCC, said: "There are some boxes that need extra love and her knitting gives them that. Joyce helps us make sure the boxes are absolutely right for the children."

This is the third year Joyce has volunteered for the charity to keep herself busy.

Her husband, Frank, passed away 38 years ago when her son, Jonathan, was 12.

Throughout her lifetime, she had a variety of careers dealing with people at all stages of life.

From the 1970s until she retired aged 63 in 1991, she cared for elderly patients at the former Pembury Hospital.

Before that, she worked as a saleswoman at Sainsbury's and as a Salvation Army officer providing mothers with help and advice for their babies in the 1940s and 50s.

She also keeps herself busy with a range of classes and groups.

Once a week she attends an exercise session which shows elderly people how to get up if they fall.

She also goes to the luncheon clubs and art classes at the Tonbridge Baptist Church, in Darenth Avenue.

The charity is still looking for volunteers to help check through the boxes which have been donated, before Friday, December 6.

People who would like to help can register online here.

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