Third Sector Excellence Awards: Volunteer of the Year

Joint winners Harry and Carol Montagu have volunteered for Elizabeth Finn Homes since1959, and have shown 'astonishing commitment', say our judges.

Harry and Carol Montagu
Harry and Carol Montagu

For the volunteers who have shown the greatest commitment and achievement

Judging panel:
Peter Atfield, HR director, Clic Sargent
John Burnell, director, Personnel Solutions
David Gold, chief executive, Prospectus
Elaine Willis, consultant

Martin Anderson, Motor Neurone Disease Association
Neville Ball, After Adoption
Richard Fisher, Jewish Care
Dave Heeley, The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association
Harry and Carol Montagu, Elizabeth Finn Homes
Said Rahim, Refugee Council

Winner: Harry and Carol Montagu, Elizabeth Finn Homes
Harry and Carol Montagu have clocked up a combined 83 years of unbroken service to the elderly residents of care home Greathed Lodge.

The couple, whose involvement with the home in St John's Wood, London, dates back to 1959, have served residents, raised money to support the home's development and even cooked the occasional Sunday lunch.

Judges were moved by the dedication shown by the pair and decided to make the award to them jointly. They were also impressed by their unceasing concern for residents.

Carol began working at the lodge - which provides personal and social care for up to 29 residents aged 65 or above - in 1959 and has served residents continuously ever since. Harry became involved with the home, owned by Elizabeth Finn Homes, in 1975. The charity said the couple's greatest achievement could be their contribution to creating a strong sense of community within the home.

Harry and Carol have carried out a wide range of official duties, including being key players on the lodge's Friends Committee and being part of the committee that advises on best practice across all of Elizabeth Finn's care homes.

The Montagus' commitment to the home goes further than personal care. They have also raised more than £150,000 during the past 10 years to pay for improvements to its facilities and grounds. The pair even turned their hand to cooking Sunday lunch when the home was short-staffed. They also arranged transport for residents to attend the home's annual charity concert, which raises funds for the lodge.

Harry has suffered from cancer in recent years, but this has not caused the pair to reduce their involvement with the home.

"It is just an astonishing commitment to the home and to the people who live there," said Peter Atfield, one of the judges. "They appear to have built their lives around what they could do for the people in that home and they have helped build a strong sense of community there."

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