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Unsung Hero: Great grandmother makes marmalades and jams for charity
Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and loganberries are just some of the delightful fruits one great grandmother uses to make her homemade jams and marmalades for charity.
Former teacher Gwyneth Whittle has been conjuring up tasty preserves for churchgoers for years.
But the nonagenarian puts her small earnings back into the community with donations to Methodist Homes for the Aging and Action for Children.
The 93-year-old Surbiton Methodist Church regular can also be seen riding her bike close to home and meeting with members of Surbiton Blind Club every week.
She said: “My job is to talk to people that are blind. I started going when a friend of mine became blind and needed a bit of company and I got to know some of the members. I find it very rewarding.
“Blind club members are such a cheerful bunch.”
“My genes are very good – there’s long lives in my family. My great-grandfather born in 1810 was in the streets to see Queen Victoria’s funeral. I am very lucky.
“I’m about as strong as a 70-year-old, I think. My memory is getting a little chancy.”
Mrs Whittle of Pyne Road, Tolworth, moved to the borough more than 20 years ago from Hertfordshire to live by her elderly mother who was in her 80s at the time. Her husband died some years before.
She has been an active church member for years and regularly enjoys helping with the mother and toddler days.
Fellow churchgoer Linda Bridges from Surbiton who nominated the great-grandmother-of five, said: “She does an amazing amount of work helping in the church and with children. She makes marmalade – she is wonderful.
“She has got her health and mind. She is very positive. If there is a job to do she will get on to it. She will even organise rotas for other people. I admire her spirit.”
Mrs Whittle said: “I have a small little garden, but I have strawberries, blackcurrants, rhubarb – you name it. I need it to sell for charity. I am a gardener. My father was also a keen gardener.
“It is well known in my church – if anybody runs out of jam they say have you got any?”
She said her love for jams grew throughout childhood when her mother grew fruits to use at tea time.
In fact she recalled her mother once making jam from 250lb of strawberries.
Mrs Whittle enjoys walking her shiatsu dog named Sam, knitting for family and the church and watching theatre shows at the Rose Theatre and Epsom Playhouse.
On being called an unsung hero, she said: “I do not think I really do anything outside of the ordinary – perhaps that’s what unsung heroes are? They keep doing what they usually do?”
Do you know an unsung hero? Call the newsdesk on 020 8744 4273 or email email@example.com with a nomination.
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