Happy when I’m busy – Dobbie, 96

96 year old Ethel "Dobbie" Dobbins.
96 year old Ethel "Dobbie" Dobbins.
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AT 96, Ethel ‘Dobbie’ Dobbins is showing no sign of slowing down.

The plucky pensioner certainly keeps busy - she is on the committee of two local groups, as well as being a member of a further three and involved with local health organisations.

And in June, she will be among volunteers taking part in a special march for the Queen’s Jubilee visit to Accrington.

It’s not the first time Dobbie, as she is known to all her friends, family and colleagues, has been in the presence of royalty.

In 1934, when she was 18, and working as a nurse at Manchester Royal Infirmary, she formed part of a guard of honour when the Queen Mother visited the city to open its central library.

Over the years, Dobbie’s career has largely been in the health and social care sectors.

The Cleveleys resident said: “I have always been interested in health and social care from an early age. I was in the St John Ambulance, Brownies and Girl Guides, and the badges I went for were very much the provision of care – for example, first-aid.

“I don’t know if it’s perhaps the way my family was brought up in Manchester. My mother, I remember, would help out tramps or vagrants when they came to the door. She would give them our dinner!

“Once a family of gypsies knocked on the door, and the little girl had no shoes, so my mother told me to take mine off and put my best ones on, and she gave my other shoes to the girl.

“My father was very deaf, and he was a part-time vicar with the Methodist church.

“My sister also became a nurse, and my brother went into teaching and he still teaches now, in his 80s.

“I enjoy helping people, and believe the voluntary sector should be voluntary. I get a lot of satisfaction from helping to make a difference.”

Dobbie enrolled for nursing training at Manchester Royal Infirmary in 1933 – which at the time was a voluntary hospital, as there was no NHS.

She went on to work as a midwife in Glasgow, before becoming a district nurse and health visitor.

She moved with friends to Cleveleys in 1970, and joined Blackpool Civic Welfare as a social worker, and then became a medical social worker.

She retired in 1980, but kept up her links with health and social care through her voluntary work which included helping the disabled with holidays, Blackpool Jubilee Stroke Club, a good neighbour scheme on Grange Park and being a member of the Community Health Council.

She is now treasurer of Blackpool Jubilee Stroke Club, secretary of Thornton Cleveleys Hard of Hearing Club and a member of the Wyre Disability Partnership, the Wyre Senior Forum and Wyre Together.

Dobbie, who has travelled to a wide range of countries, including Africa, America, Switzerland, Yugoslavia and Malta, enjoys gardening, opera, ballet and cooking and has a keen interest in current affairs.

She said: “I feel I am so lucky. I feel keeping busy and still volunteering is what keeps me well.

“While physically I am now limited in what I can do, I try to still have input into health and social services – attending meetings, asking questions, filling in surveys and asking people for their views.

“I feel with my experiences I can hopefully help contribute.

“And I am really thankful to those who have helped me with voluntary work over the years.

“Doing these things just makes me happy.”