WHEN Carole Irving was asked to help out with a few jobs around a village hall– just until a fulltime person could be found– she was happy to oblige.

More than two decades later she is still busy helping to keep Kirk Merrington Community Centre running smoothly.

Mrs Irving's hard work and dedication to her voluntary work at the centre has now been recognised with a 'certificate of dedication' from Spennymoor Town Council.

The award was presented to her during the weekly Tuesday coffee morning at St John's Church, in Kirk Merrington, by the Mayor of Spennymoor Clive Maddison and consort Liz Maddison.

Mrs Irving said: "I was very proud but really feel like I'm just doing my job, and there are other people on the committee who work very hard too."

Great-grandmother Mrs Irving has lived in Kirk Merrington for around 58 years, opposite the community centre, and she and late husband Kenneth raised their three sons in the village.

When she retired from work at the Black & Decker factory in Spennymoor, aged 59, she agreed to use some of her spare time to become a volunteer, cleaning and decorating at the hall.

She said: "I was at the bingo when I was asked to help out until they found someone, and they never did.

"If there is something on the at the centre, I open up and lock up, I clean, put the heating on during the bad weather and I'm there every day to check everything is ok. I'm also the booking secretary and on the committee.

"When people rang the house, my husband used to say 'she's over home'.

"I do care a lot about the centre. It is a beautiful hall, well looked after by all of the committee and an important part of the village."

When Mr Irving died last April, Mrs Irving said that her work at the centre and the people there were a huge support.

She said: "It is like a community, within our community and so important to the village. I'm 81-years-old, and this gives me a role in life. Some people retire then spend their time watching the tele, I'm sorry but I'm not that woman."

Spennymoor Town Councillor Christine Sproat, who nominated Mrs Irving for the award, said she 'goes above and beyond what is expected' to support a valued community facility.