New Year Honours for inspirational volunteers

published on 3 Jan 2020

Two Salvation Army volunteers have been recognised with New Year Honours for their kind-hearted work supporting local communities. Both Grace Friar, 98, and Jeff Baker, 72, were awarded British Empire Medals for their work with The Salvation Army.

Volunteer “sews” seeds of support

Grace, from Berwick, volunteers with The Salvation Army’s Harvestfield Furniture and Recycling Project, where she sorts, mends and prices clothes behind the scenes. Grace has also been known to purchase items for customers in need using her own money, and helps customers with clothing alterations whether bought through The Salvation Army or not.

Grace, said: “It was quite a surprise. For 68 years I used to collect for the Poppy Appeal, and for the past seven years I have volunteered for the Furniture Project. I am quite humbled, I didn’t think I was doing anything very special, I just sort of helped with things. I liked to do things to help people.

“I often talk to people who come in, they will tell me their problems, and if I can help I will. What I can do is always listen. If I help someone, I feel I have done something worthwhile.”

“Most inspirational person I have met”

Jessie Watson, Harvestfield Furniture Project Manager, said: “She totally deserves it. She comes in here four days a week and works away. She says she doesn’t do much, but the truth is the clothes she sorts are sold to support The Salvation Army’s vital work in the community, and sometimes even given to people referred to us who are in real need. She is the most inspirational person I have met.”

Volunteer’s musical passion

Jeff Baker taught young people to play musical instruments and led the Young People’s Salvation Army band at Consett Corps (church) for many years, before also going on to be Band Master for the main corps band. In total he has served for more than 50 years.

A blue plaque was unveiled at Consett Corps just before Christmas, as the corps band, which Jeff was band master of, was the first ever Salvation Army band in the world. It was formed in 1879.

Jeff has run charity Christmas concerts with The Salvation Army band in the town for 20 years raising many thousands of pounds for a host of good causes including Alzheimer’s UK, Cancer Research UK, Hexham Oncology Unit and more.

Christmas toys for children in need

Since 2006 Jeff, who is a grandfather to two children, has been one of the organisers for The Salvation Army’s Christmas toy appeal to distribute gifts to children in the region who otherwise might not receive a present.

Jeff said: “I am quite embarrassed, you don’t do this work for reward. It is more about recognition of the work of The Salvation Army in the community and an acknowledgement of what The Salvation Army does.”

Make New Year resolution to volunteer

As many people are still thinking of New Year resolutions – The Salvation Army is encouraging people to make a resolution to give some time – whether it’s a few hours once a week or a few days a week, as a volunteer.

The Salvation Army's vital work supporting vulnerable people and families couldn't happen without them. To register your interest and find out more go to

People can also volunteer at Salvation Army Trading Company charity shops.

This work can include assisting at the front of the shop (such as customer service on the shop floor and helping at the till), as well as sorting clothes and other donated items.

Potential volunteers can visit their local charity shop and offer to help on a short-term basis or if they wish, for longer too. The work that volunteers do in Salvation Army charity shops helps raise funds which go directly toward funding the vital work of The Salvation Army.

People can find their local Salvation Army Trading Company charity shop here:



Grace Friar
Grace Friar, from Berwick and Jeff Baker, from Consett


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