Barbara and her family, with Matthew Offord MP

Barbara and her family, with Matthew Offord MP

An 83-year-old who has spent half her life volunteering at a Jewish community centre has been honoured by the Prime Minister.

Barbara Waterman from Hendon was awarded the Point of Light, in recognition of her dedicated volunteering at Jewish Care’s Stepney Jewish Community Centre in East London since 1970.

She received the award, which recognises outstanding individual volunteers within communities, for helping thousands and dedicating more than 25,000 hours of service.

The extraordinary volunteer, who has also raised £20,000 as the Treasurer of the friends of Stepney Fundraising committee, was praised by the Prime Minister David Cameron.

He said: “In Barbara, they find a caring and generous woman, who for over 45 years, has provided emotional and social support for so many. I’m delighted to recognise Barbara’s service to others by making her a Point of Light.”

Speaking about being the 294th winner of the Points of Light award, Barbara said: “I am so proud to receive this award on behalf of Jewish Care. Of the 3000 volunteers with the organisation, it is even more amazing that I was nominated and then won.

“I go to Stepney Jewish Community Centre twice and week and have been involved in all aspects of life there, from catering to entertainment, theatre visits and serving lunches and teas. I like the people, they are real characters – they are like family. Being East End people, they are very friendly and they all know each other – because the centre is small, we get to know each other well. But the members come to be with people – some of them do not have family and they don’t see other people the rest of the week. They just want someone to talk to.”

“I get a lot of pleasure out of it. I go there twice a week and I provide consistency for them, as they get to know you and your family, I feel so involved and I always think about what is best for the centre.”

Jewish Care Chief Executive Simon Morris said:We are very proud that Barbara has been recognised by the Prime Minsters Point of Light Award. She is the first Jewish Care volunteer to receive this award and one of our longest standing and celebrated volunteers.

“Barbara has a great sense of humour, which is infectious when she is in the centre.  Nothing is too much for Barbara, and she is willing to help out with anything needed.  The welfare of our members and the morale of our volunteer and staff team are always of utmost priority to her.

“We would really struggle without the regular support and commitment of volunteers like Barbara who ensure that so many older, isolated people in our community stay connected to their local communities, and make friendships and connections that bring meaning to their lives.”

Local MP for Hendon Matthew Offord said: “I am delighted to award Barbara’s a Point of Light for her many years of dedication. Barbara’s commitment to the Stepney Jewish Community Centre is second to none and the amount she has helped to raise over the years is testament to this. Congratulations Barbara.”