As our longest-serving volunteer, Violet Pace has seen Haven House grow and grow over many years.

Violet has been with us from the very beginning and long before we arrived at our home, The White House, in Woodford Green. Violet started volunteering with Haven House in 1999 when we were operating from a temporary office on Cranbrook Road in Ilford.

At the time our founder, Sue Irwin, was trying to secure a home for our hospice. Violet, a local resident born in Manor Park, heard about Sue’s vision for Haven House from her colleague, Laura, who worked with Violet at the Kenneth Moore Theatre in Ilford.

Violet recalls:

Back then Haven House had one fundraiser, an administrator, a facilities person and just two or three volunteers. It’s lovely to see how everything has changed since those early days.

To begin with Violet helped with simple administration such as filing and stuffing envelopes with our newsletters, but she quickly established her reputation for being skilled at the incredibly important and fast-paced task of sorting money from collections and events.

It’s a role which Violet still does with relish to this day. If you pass our post room, you will often see Violet emptying our Red House Boxes and busily putting pennies and pounds through a noisy counting machine.

Violet says:

It’s not a simple task. Some of these new coins are a bit naughty and it’s harder to get them down their slot. Volunteering gives you satisfaction that you are helping people and it also helps the charity by saving money.

Violet has often found herself unexpectedly in the spotlight. In recent years she has been a contestant on quiz shows Deal or No Deal and The Weakest Link. She made her TV debut on Double Your Money in 1965 and then appeared on Take Your Pick in 1969. Always keen for a dance, Violet never misses the opportunity to show off her dance moves at our Summer Fayre.

She says:

I don’t mind doing these things for the fun of it. I like to make people laugh. You’ve got to do that in life.

Having recently celebrated her 86th birthday, Violet has no intention of slowing down. Her ability to brighten up everyone’s day with a joke and song has long made her a legend at Haven House. 

Violet’s unwavering commitment to volunteering has seen her win a Heart of Essex Award. She recently attended a glitzy ceremony with her friend, Mary, who has been volunteering at Haven House for almost as long as Violet.

When she walked on stage to collect her award Violet received a minute-long round of applause, after thanking the audience she admits she was too overcome with emotion to say anything more.

Violet says:

When I think about Haven House, I start getting weepy and emotional because it’s such a lovely place; the good that we do here and the care that we provide to the children is exceptional. I hope more volunteers can come and join us.

If you are inspired by Violet and would like to give your time to Haven House, please visit our volunteering page to find out more about our roles.