The Ascot Volunteer Bureau (AVB) was opened on May 8th, 1981. It was started by Anne Butler-Smith, employed by Bracknell Council to kickstart voluntary organisations in the area. It was perceived that there was a need to provide assistance to the older residents of Ascot, North Ascot, South Ascot, Sunninghill and Sunningdale, primarily – though not exclusively – providing transport to medical appointments at a GP surgery, hospital, dentist, physiotherapist, chiropodist, et cetera where individuals, for one reason or another, were unable to get to their appointments. Other assistance that was provided in the early years of its existence included help with filling in forms, gardening and sewing.

June Martin MBE (picture courtesy of Ascot Matters)
June Martin MBE (picture courtesy of Ascot Matters)

June Martin, a retired pharmacist and resident of Sunningdale, was involved from the beginning, becoming chairman in 1983. This was far from being her only contribution to voluntary work. She was chairwoman of the Ascot Day Centre for the elderly (subsequently President for life), was involved with a carers’ support group, and co-chaired a local development group for Windsor & Maidenhead Social Services plus a carers’ forum for Bracknell Forest Council. In the year 2000 June was eventually awarded an MBE (Member of the British Empire) for her voluntary work.

Margot Carpenter
Margot Carpenter

Margot Carpenter joined the AVB in 1984. She and Sydney Hurley, acting in joint capacities, took over from Joyce Pemberton, the original Coordinator. Margot eventually became the sole Coordinator several years later.

Margot could often be found in the office in South Ascot Church Hall, manning the telephone, taking transport requests from clients and ringing round our volunteer drivers to see who was available to fulfil the request. She also handled the inevitable administration functions that come with such a role, and acted as a driver.

Heather Cummins was another long-serving volunteer. She started in 1985 by doing some shopping for elderly clients, before helping to man the office, and then becoming a member of the AVB committee.

Heather introduced Marion Hurdwell to AVB in 2000. Marion, who had just retired from her role within the NHS. started as an office volunteer and took on driving duties when required. She also soon became a member of the AVB committee.

After a career as a consultant in clinical teaching in the field of Orthodontics, Liz Horrocks became a driver for AVB in 2005. She was soon encouraged by June to become the AVB Secretary, and she started in that role in May 2006.

June eventually stepped down from the role as chairman in May 2009 after 29 years of service, being replaced by Janet King, although she remained on the AVB committee until 2012. June continued to be heavily involved with the Ascot Day Centre until her death in 2020.

Margot followed June into retirement in August 2010 although she continued to be a member of the committee for a short time afterwards, as well as acting as an occasional volunteer driver for several years. Her long and invaluable service to AVB and the local community was recognised at The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Volunteers for the Year of 2010 Awards when she was joint runner-up in the over 50s category.

Margot was succeeded as Coordinator by Eileen Hayward in September 2010. She was succeeded in turn by Joan Abson in September 2012. Joan filled the role for two years. Eileen subsequently returned as Acting Coordinator until John Thomson took on the role in November 2015.

Heather Cummins and Marion Hurdwell continued in their committee roles until 2021. In the following year, Liz Horrocks retired from her role as the AVB Secretary after 16 years, although she continued to act as a volunteer driver.