A long-serving charity champion has been presented with a prestigious award from Newbury Rotary Club for her efforts to help people suffering from Parkinson’s.
Mary Hansford was bestowed with the Paul Harris Fellowship Award for establishing, working and fundraising for the Parkinson’s UK Newbury branch.
Recently retired Mary set up the branch in 1980 after finding that the nearest support group to West Berkshire for people with the neurological condition was all the way in Reading.
The branch was formally inaugurated by Parkinson’s UK the following year, and since then Mary has raised more than £400,000 for the charity.
“Receiving the Paul Harris award is certainly a shock and surprise but I am honoured,” said Mary.
“My husband had Parkinson’s for 22 years and in the 1980s the nearest branch was Reading, so I enquired about starting a branch in Newbury.
“With the support of many members over the years, I have enjoyed all I have been able to do to help people with Parkinson’s.
“I am pleased to say the branch is still going strong and will continue for many years until a cure is found.”
The Paul Harris Fellowship Award was established in 1957 in honour of the founder of Rotary International, and is the highest award given by a club.
Rotary assistant district governor Gerry Cowan presented Mary with the award on behalf of Newbury Rotary Club.
He said: “In recognition of Mary’s unstinting work we rotarians are delighted that Newbury Rotary Club have awarded her and made her a Paul Harris Fellow.
“Since the inauguration [of the branch], Mary has carried out many roles and is seen as a font of all knowledge related to Parkinson’s in our area.
“The local branch now has 200 members and thousands of Parkinson’s sufferers have benefitted from Mary’s commitment and work since its formation.”