VOLUNTEERS from across Hampshire have been celebrated for clocking up thousands of hours of service helping elderly residents.

Having devoted their spare time to spare others, it was time that they enjoyed some time out in recognition of their work.

More than 120 heroes – many who help others who are younger than themselves – have been thanked at a special celebratory lunch hosted by Age Concern Hampshire at the Marwell Hotel.

Among them is John Stokes, who might be just a few months shy of his 80th birthday, but that doesn’t stop him making a difference in the village of Harbridge Green near Winchester, where he lives.

Mr Stokes, who served with the Royal Engineers, offered to become a village agent for Age Concern and has so far organised meet and greets for people in the village and undertaken home visits.

He added: “A village agent is a finger-point. I’m not going to go and clear someone’s drains for them, but I can hand out a booklet with tried and tested, reliable tradesmen who are approved by the county council and Age Concern.

“I can also go on home visits and make sure plugs aren’t hanging out of sockets or carpets sticking out of the stairs and make sure people avoid little dangers. I can point them in the direction of free help.”

The charity needs help at its centres throughout Hampshire and also enlists village agents who act as its representative in the community, while others run classes teaching different skills from fundraising to IT.

Chief executive Rick Smith said “We are eternally grateful for everything that our volunteers do.”

Age Concern works with people aged over 50 and runs 15 day centres, providing activities including yoga, art, choral singing and belly dancing.

For more details or to volunteer call 0800 328 7154.