AMONG the devoted people who give their time freely to help others, our three Volunteer of the Year finalists shine out for their kindness.

Described as 'an amazing lady', Barbara Russell, 74, of Coniston, was nominated by her fellow volunteers at the Leonard Cheshire care home at Holehird, Windermere, where she has given more than 30 years’ service to disabled residents.

“I don’t do it for this kind of recognition but it is very nice to be nominated,” she said. “I absolutely love the job, everyone’s like my second family here.

“No day is the same and I look forward to coming here every week.

“I love getting to know all the residents and their families. It’s a pleasure to work here.”

Volunteer coordinator Louise Braithwaite said: “Barbara is the most dedicated volunteer I have ever met. She has a lovely nature and is so kind and caring.”

Patricia Hovey, our second nominee, volunteers at Kendal Parish Church each Saturday, greeting visitors and sharing her passion for its history.

She was secretary of Kendal Civic Society for 43 years and her tireless work to protect the town’s heritage led to an MBE.

“What a lovely surprise,” said the retired teacher, 84, about her nomination.

“There are so many people who give their time and their talents and don’t expect anything in return. I’m just a very ordinary one.”

Mrs Hovey and her late husband, Robert, volunteered with the Samaritans and helped guide blind skiers. She volunteered at Kendal’s Oxfam shop for years and became as a greeter at church after a painful back injury meant she could no longer lead history walks around town.

“My goodness, we meet some interesting people,” she said. “Some pour out their troubles; some just want to come in and have a quiet sit or find out about the church. I can’t walk very far, I can’t stand, but I can do this sitting down. I just enjoy meeting people and listening to them; it’s lovely.”

Completing the shortlist is Eddie Harrison, former leader of Kendal Mountain Rescue Team, who now volunteers at Fantastic Kendal, the town’s tourist information hub on Finkle Street.

The 68-year-old also helps run With Singing in Mind, the therapeutic vocal group for people with neurological conditions such as dementia, held at Hallgarth Community Centre on Mondays at 1.30pm.

“Eddie is always on call to help anyone, be they neighbours, friends or just someone in need,” said Kendal BID manager Sarah Williams; “a true gent, you cannot meet anyone nicer.”

Mr Harrison said he loves telling the public about Kendal and the Lakes, and also seeing how the singing group benefits people and their carers. “I’m happy to help out anywhere if I’ve got the time,” he added.