British Red Cross volunteer Anne Taylor, from Penzance, Cornwall, was awarded a special edition commemorative coin for her outstanding contributions to volunteering.

The coin was awarded as the charity celebrates its 150th birthday on August 4, 2020.

The coins are being sent to 150 outstanding volunteers to thank them for their efforts, and will be accompanied by a letter from The Duchess of Cambridge, in which Her Royal Highness pays tribute to her own family ties to the Red Cross.

Falmouth Packet:

With 80 years of service as a volunteer, Anne displays her British Red Cross badges

As one of the charity’s longest serving volunteers, Anne also received a congratulatory phone call from Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra, deputy president of the British Red Cross. Anne and Her Royal Highness had met on previous occasions, including a Buckingham Palace garden party in 2014.

Anne said: "It was a real honour to have Royalty talking to me on the phone and to be able to share a lovely conversation about some of the things I've done over the years with the British Red Cross.

"I couldn't believe that she mentioned meeting me before. It was a very normal conversation, we spoke about my time as a volunteer and about normal things, such as family and everyday life. A real privilege."

Falmouth Packet:

Anne after receiving a congratulatory phone call from HRH Princess Alexandra

Anne, 87, first encountered the Red Cross when she was evacuated from her home in Kent aged seven at the height of World War II.

Anne said: “We were bombed out of our home because we lived near Biggin Hill, where the Battle of Britain took place.

“We were forced to evacuate to Devon because the building we lived in was requisitioned by the American air force. The British Red Cross was involved in the evacuation. I began volunteering with them shortly after.

“I wanted to become a nurse from a very young age. At the time, the only way to do so was by joining the Red Cross. I saw Red Cross nurses caring for the sick and wounded. I knew right away it was something I wanted to do.”

Anne volunteered with the Red Cross throughout the war. After returning to the south east, she helped people affected by the Blitz. She volunteered as a reserve first-aider in recovery homes and theatres, which were requisitioned to provide support for overburdened hospitals across the country.

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“I was always on hand to help out with whatever was needed,” Anne said. “I was very young, but that was just life as it was at the time. Everyone pitched in.”

Anne continued to pursue her interest in nursing after the war ended. While attending boarding school Anne volunteered as a first aid trainer with her local branch of the British Red Cross.

This experience helped her save the life of a classmate who sustained a serious injury while on a school trip to Devon in the 1950s.

Anne said: “One of my friends fell onto a glass milk bottle while we were walking on the coastal path. It smashed and she started bleeding profusely. I helped to tie a tourniquet which stemmed the flow of blood. It was scary but my experience with the Red Cross meant I could step forward and act quickly.”

Anne became a registered nurse after leaving school in the early 1960s. But she never forgot the organisation that first sparked her passion. She continued teaching first aid with the Red Cross for nearly three decades. After moving to Cornwall in 1998 she volunteered with the Red Cross mobility aids service.

Anne, 87, was forced to take a break from volunteering during the pandemic but hopes to return as soon as she is able.

She said: “I’ve made it quite clear that I will be coming back. I’ve been volunteering for 80 years. There’s no way I’m giving up now!"