LIVING with learning difficulties was a daily struggle for Judith Hamer whose confidence was rock bottom as a result.
But four years after bravely plucking up the courage to volunteer at a women’s charity in Doncaster she has won a prestigious award for her efforts.
Judith has been chosen as the winner of the main Marsh Award for 2012, for her services at the Doncaster Platform 51.
She was able to improve her self-esteem as well as helping other women with confidence problems through her work for the charity that supports girls and women as they take control of their lives.
The annual award is aimed to celebrate the importance and benefits of volunteering for women, charities and communities.
Judith, 63, has been volunteering in the café at Platform 51 in Cleveland Street for the last four years.
In that time she has played a valuable part in the smooth running of the kitchen, passed her food and hygiene certificate and excelled at baking.
She supports other women of all backgrounds at the centre, including others with learning difficulties.
Judith, of Cantley, said: “I have learned to make other people happy by just being me.
“Volunteering at the Platform 51 café in Doncaster for the last four years has been hugely rewarding.
“Before I started volunteering I was very shy, this role has given me the confidence to talk to other people and step out of my comfort zone.
“I hope that I can encourage other women and girls to volunteer and make a difference in their local community.”
Volunteering in the café two full days a week, Judith assists the cooks by replenishing supplies, preparing dishes for lunch, ensuring that everything is clean and serving customers.
But baking is Judith’s favourite task: “I got myself a cookery book and had a go at home. I have got better and better and it is something I really enjoy doing.”
This year Judith baked cakes for the summer fair to raise funds for the centre and regularly brings in her baking to share.
She added: “Over the years I have come out of my shell. I listen to other people and tell them my funny stories about what I’ve been doing.
“When visitors come to the centre I tell them about Platform 51 and how I love my volunteering work. I like to make people laugh and I get a banter going so people forget their troubles and enjoy their time.”
Judith assists in other areas around the centre including helping women on the BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) project to learn English words to songs, joining in on ceremonial activities and speaking to visitors from Commenting on the awards ceremony, Penny Newman, chief executive of Platform 51 said: “I want to congratulate Judith on winning the Marsh Awards 2012.
“At Platform 51, we help support girls and women across the country to take control of their lives and volunteering is a crucial part of the work we do in our centres.
“These awards offer a great opportunity to recognise the extraordinary voluntary work being done by Platform 51 women and girls and celebrate their efforts and achievements both in their local community and nationally.”
Judith beat of stiff competition from four nominees for the award and was presented with her certificate and prize at Platform 51’s head office by Brian Marsh OBE who personally selected Judith as the winner.