Big-hearted octogenarian Mavis Rowland has been credited with waging a one-woman crusade against loneliness in her sheltered accommodation.
Dubbed ‘Meanwood’s Mother Theresa’ by friends, the 81-year-old has organised regular strawberry teas, trips to the seaside, holds bingo sessions three times a week and collects fish and chip suppers on her mobility scooter on a Friday.
She also helps with her neighbours’ shopping, arranges birthday parties and ‘sing-songs’ as well as get-togethers including an upcoming Christmas dinner, with a raffle, in Harrogate on December 12.
She told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “I have to do something. I can’t sit here and do nothing. It keeps me occupied. Some people don’t see anyone so that’s why I have to try.”
Mavis moved up to Leeds from Bedfordshire 12 years ago to be closer to her family after her husband died.
Brian Schofield, 70, a resident at the complex, has known Mavis since she moved in and said she is an “indispensable part of the building”.
He said: “I’d be lost without her. She’s always at the end of the phone. If I need Mavis for anything at all, she drops everything and comes to help me. I’d say she was the glue that holds everything together,” he said.
The grandmother is also known as ‘Nanny Mave’ by local schoolchildren who she arranges to come and sing regularly for her neighbours.
Rev Kingsley Dowling, of Holy Trinity Church, where Mavis is a dedicated member, said she is “always thinking of others” and is on hand for anyone who needs help. He added: “It is lovely to see such close links develop between the residents, church and school - and it is all down to Mavis.”
Mary Smith is the local business owner of Shamrock Home Help, a north Leeds home help service helping support local senior citizens retain their independence. She said: “In all my years running a home help business, I’ve never met someone as inspirational as Mavis.
"What she has given back to her community in terms of her time, effort and commitment is really remarkable."
Despite a recent set-back when she was injured in a hit and run accident a couple of months ago, Mavis says she has no intentions of slowing down.
“My mother always used to say: ‘If you can’t help anybody, you shouldn’t be on this earth’. I guess that’s just stuck in my head.”