The Independent Christmas Appeal: `A smile is the only reward I need'

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The Independent Online
AT THE age of 66, Doreen Taylor should be enjoying her retirement and allowing others to look after her. Instead, she spends her time looking after her mother and running a day centre for the elderly.

Mrs Taylor is the warden at the Friends Meeting House in Wolverhampton and, in anyspare time, works as a volunteer for Age Concern.

"It takes up all my time but I really enjoy it," she said. "I have never thought of money as the most important thing and the joy on the old people's faces when they come to the day centre or I take them out for lunch is compensation in itself."

Every day at 7.30am she drives to her mother's house, prepares breakfast and dresses her. "It used to be quite quick to do, but now she is 97 and I am usually there until about 10am," she said.

On Tuesdays she goes home via the market, where she buys food for lunch at the day centre, which opens every Wednesday. "We have about 24 people in each week and it is the highlight of their week, because many of them aren't very mobile. I have another volunteer to help and we make them lunch or sometimes take them out in the Age Concern ambulance to the country or to the pub for lunch."

At 3.30pm, when the centre closes, Mrs Taylor cleans up and folds the tables before going home and making tea for herself and her husband, Dennis, 67. Then she returns to her mother's house to give her supper and get her ready for bed. "She stays with me three days a week, which makes things easier, but she is very attached to her little flat and I am determined she will be able to stay there as long as she wants.

"I don't mind looking after her. She did so much for us as children and it seems only right that I should try and repay some of that.

"I like to be busy and I shall keep on doing this as long as I can. I feel proud I can do something to help these people and that's all the reward I need."