SPRIGHTLY Linda Hope is an inspiration to us all.
Even at the grand old age of 80, she still loves nothing more than to volunteer her time once a week in the Barnardo’s charity shop, in Hartlepool’s York Road.
Linda, who recently celebrated the landmark birthday with a surprise party, does a shift every Saturday in the shop serving customers, chatting to regulars and keeping the stock replenished.
Her devoted family have praised the mum-of-two, who has been volunteering for 21 years.
The retired nursery assistant said: “I really enjoy spending time in the shop.
“The people are really nice and we get a lot of regular customers popping in.
“I love volunteering there and it is something I enjoy.”
Linda explained her long-standing role started when she popped in to do a bit of shopping.
Linda, whose husband, Bill Hope, a welder, died 16 years ago, added: “It all started when I went in to buy a picture frame and the manager just asked whether I did anything and asked if I would be interested in working there.
“I started the following morning.”
Catherine Braithwaite, manager of the York Road store, said: “Linda has been an absolutely brilliant member of staff for such a long time.
“She has been a real asset to the business for 21 years.”
To celebrate the landmark birthday, Linda, who lives in the Foggy Furze are of town, was treated to a surprise birthday at the Oxford Road Baptist Church Hall, in Caledonian Road.
Dozens of friends and family were on hand to wish her well.
Linda has two children, Avis Brough, 52, who lives near Helmsley, and Eric Hope, 59, who lives in Dalton Piercy and three grandchildren Kirsty Colley, 33, Louise Wray, 31 and Paul Brough, 26.
Avis, a community involvement worker for Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “Mum makes the most of every day and she is very optimistic about life and all it offers. She has a good social life and is constantly busy.
“I think she enjoys meeting and speaking to people the most.”
Linda is also a regular churchgoer and is a member of the Cameo Ladies group, which meets once a month.
Avis added: “Mum was delighted with the surprise party and it was great to see so many people there.
“There must have been about 50 over the course of the afternoon.
“I had told her I was taking her out for a cup of coffee but instead we had arranged for all of her friends and family to come down and celebrate with her.”