by Brenda Boyd

Many years ago when I graduated I had no real idea of what I wanted to do beyond “I want to be useful.”

I ended up working in marketing, advertising and public relations and, yes, I was useful in helping organisations publicise themselves and sell their products and services.  I gained negotiation, organising, writing and media liaison skills.

Having children with special needs meant I couldn’t work as much, but I could usefully get involved in Parent Teachers Associations raising funds for their school.

I used to go to ‘consultation’ meetings with the local authority and was one of those people who would point out anomalies and ask awkward questions. After one of these meetings the then Chief Officer of the charity that evolved into LD:NorthEast grabbed me and said “We need people like you.” So I became involved, attending board meetings, and eventually became a trustee.

Attending an event a couple of years ago the CEO asked me “Can you knit?”

“Yes, why?”

The volunteers at LDNE’s Knit and Natter were both ill and nobody in the office knew how to cast on or cast off.  So the next Friday I went along, and have been to Knit and Natter almost every week since.  Our ladies make blanket squares, doll’s clothes, teddies, twiddle muffs and anything that takes their fancy we can find a pattern for.  We’ve presented knitted items to homeless charities, Age Concern, Cat Rescue, Freeman Hospital and trauma teddies to Northumbria Police’s Victims First project.  Some of our work is sold in aid of LDNE funds.  It does our ladies good to see their work is valued, and that they can contribute to other people’s welfare.

Being a trustee and volunteer helps me feel my experience and skills are not going to waste. It has brought me into the company of some lovely people.

It helps me to feel useful.