David Durling, 76, has volunteered for Re-engage for nearly 25 years, organising free monthly tea parties for people aged 75 and over who may be lonely or isolated.

He rebuilt the social group after it was ‘wiped out’ during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to his delight, was recently recognised by the High Sheriff of Cheshire at a surprise ceremony.

During a recent get together of his Macclesfield Group at Eddisbury Hall, the home of High Sheriff, Clare Hayward, appeared in full regalia and handed David a certificate marking his ‘great and valuable services to the community’.

David, who had recently attended a Buckingham Palace Garden Party with wife, Dorothy, said: “It was a complete surprise. When Clare suddenly appeared in her regalia, I thought she was just showing the group what it looked like. But then she handed me the certificate and I was absolutely amazed.”

The High Sheriff is also a volunteer for Re-engage and hosts tea parties, which have been running in Macclesfield since 2000, with eight regular guests in their 80s and 90s.

“After Covid we had to start from scratch, we were wiped out.” added David, from Tytherington, Macclesfield. “We had to find new guests and volunteers to host the tea parties and drive the older people to and from the venues. Fortunately, we managed to get things moving by word of mouth.

“It took about six months but now we are thriving again, and I couldn’t be happier. I absolutely love running the group. It’s great to see them enjoying themselves.”

David also takes part in the Ride for Roswell, a charity bike ride that raises funds for cancer patients and research.

It was his ‘contribution in enhancing the life of the local community’ that earned him and his wife a place at the Palace garden party a week after the High Sheriff’s award.

“Unfortunately, it rained all day,” said David. “But it was a great experience to see Prince William and other members of the royal family.”

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