Pensioner Bob Carpenter has racked up nine years of service volunteering with Age UK North Tyneside by running exercise classes in North Shields and Wallsend.
After Bob retired as a payroll manager 11 years ago, he gained qualifications as an instructor in gym fitness and exercise to music.
He now runs a weekly seated exercise class at the Linskill Centre, from 10.30am to 11.30am every Thursday, as well as Tai Chi at Cedar Grove Wellbeing Centre, Wallsend.
And Bob, speaking during Volunteers Week, has no plans to slow down, saying: “When I qualified I decided to become an instructor for older people. There are so many trainers for younger people, but not older.
“I love what I do – it gets me out of the house! I’m in it for the long haul, when I get to 100 I might reassess things but I’m happy for the moment!
“The classes are so important for people. People come along by themselves and within a couple of weeks they have friends and a real purpose to get out of the house.
“It grows their social, physical and mental well-being. Wellness is not just about being fit, it is about feeling good about yourself.”
Olive Clarke, 88, has attended seated exercise classes with Bob since they started last year.
She said: “I absolutely love it. It is brilliant for me – it gives me that get up and go that I need. Not only does it give me something to look forward to, but it keeps me healthy in my mind and in my body.”
Age UK North Tyneside, based in North Shields town centre, is launching a drive to recruit more volunteers for the Active Age programme as part of Volunteers Week.
Active Age Co-ordinator Caitlin Calvert is keen to bringing in people with a range of skills who can help improve the lives of older people in North Tyneside.
Scores of older people have taken part in classes such as Walking Football and Strength and Balance since the programme was introduced in 2018. Caitlin is hoping new volunteers could start up their own classes, too.
She said: “This is one of busiest classes and it is all down to Bob. He is a brilliant character and he absolutely knows his stuff. He is so dedicated – without him these classes wouldn’t happen.
“If we had more volunteers they could assist in classes we already have, or even start their own classes up! Whatever your skill-set is, you can help us to help older people in North Tyneside.”
To find out more about volunteering or Age UK North Tyneside’s other services, head to www.ageuk.org.uk/northtyneside/ or call 0191 287 7011.