ALMOST 1,000 years of voluntary service has been recognised by THE Friends of Airedale, the charity dedicated to improving the patient and visitor experience at Airedale General Hospital.

Some 96 volunteers - from those who run the hospital shops and cafes to those who help visitors find their way around the building - have received long service certificates and badges, recognising from between five and 25 years of voluntary service, totalling an incredible 960 years.

They were presented by the hospital’s chief executive, Brendan Brown, at the charity’s Annual General Meeting which took place at Glusburn Community and Arts Centre earlier this month

Three volunteers received certificates and badges marking 25 years of service to the charity.

A further 11 were recognised for 20 years of service; 14 for 15 years of service; 23 for 10 years and 45 for five years.

Friends of Airedale chairman John Lofthouse said: “The combined total of nearly 1,000 years is quite staggering and a testament to the incredible hard work put in by our volunteers, of whom we have more than 300 in total.

“Without their dedication and commitment, we simply could not provide the level of service that we do at Airedale Hospital.”

John told volunteers at the AGM: “The past 20 months have been some of the most difficult the charity has ever encountered and we have got through so far because of such wonderful people like you.

“This has been a period of continual change as we have had to adapt as the hospital has moved through the pandemic period.

“We have seen wonderful volunteers with those who could, coming through the door to keep the shops running to provide a service for the fantastic staff at Airedale.

“We have understood your enthusiasm to get back to your volunteering roles and your disappointment when this hasn’t been possible.

“Your voices, continual encouragement, and support are what makes you all so valued and the Friends such a special organisation.

“I’m pleased to say that groups of volunteers have now returned to their roles, and this is continuing.”

Friends of Airedale is a group of more than 300 volunteers dedicated to supporting Airedale General Hospital by undertaking a number of roles within the hospital and in the community.

It also raises money to buy equipment to benefit patients and, in the past, has donated between £150,000 to £200,000 worth of equipment and services to the Airedale NHS Foundation Trust each year.