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Cupcakes and certificate for 90-year-old Dagenham volunteer

PUBLISHED: 17:10 22 February 2018 | UPDATED: 12:57 23 February 2018

Evelyn Karstadt, 90, with her special certificate and award. Picture: Ken Mears

Evelyn Karstadt, 90, with her special certificate and award. Picture: Ken Mears

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A Dagenham pensioner rung in her tenth decade with a special award recognising years of community service.

Volunteer Evelyn Karstadt with guests. Picture: Ken Mears Volunteer Evelyn Karstadt with guests. Picture: Ken Mears

Evelyn Karstadt was today presented a certificate and trophy at a ceremony held in her honour at Barking Learning Centre.

The 90-year-old, who has lived in the borough for 85 years and volunteered for 22, tucked into a lavish lunch surrounded by friends and family, some of whom travelled from Texas to attend.

“I was evacuated before the war by the borough” – then Dagenham Borough Council – she told the Post. “They looked after me very, very well as a child and I’ve always been grateful for that.”

She described helping others as a good way to “give back” to the community and keep busy.

Evelyn, of Dorothy Gardens, helped run the tea bar at Barking Hospital when her late husband Maurice was admitted.

She turned her attention to Barking Library six years ago after taking a computer course for over 50s, Silver Surfers, and has been helping out ever since.

“I was retired – and I had no time for myself,” she laughed.

“I was so busy rushing after others.”

Mayor of Barking and Dagenham Cllr Abdul Aziz and Darren Rodwell, council leader, both spoke at the event, telling guests of her selfless acts.

“Age is just a number to you,” Cllr Rodwell said to Evelyn. “It has no relevance.

“Obviously, we are very proud and privileged to have someone like you,” he added, describing her as “a lead in this community”.

In his speech, Chidi Wilson, volunteer coordinator at Barking Library and Evelyn’s manager, called the celebration “a special occasion for a special person”.

Staff could always rely on Evelyn, he said, who never shied away from mucking in when there was work to be done.

After much applause, guests showered Evelyn with gifts of jewellery, cards, flowers and wine.

“I’m lost for words, which is a very unusual thing,” she told the room. “I can’t thank you enough.”

Despite heaps of sandwiches, smoked salmon blinis, cupcakes and crisps laid out specially for her, Evelyn said helping others was its own reward.

“I do like to keep busy,” she said. “Otherwise I’m just vegetating, and that’s no good for anybody.”

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