Volunteer Anne Crawford has always had a passion for her local community. Born and raised in the now demolished and beautifully named '1 Shamrock Row' she is a true Shantallow woman. 'its where the pitches are now' she explains. 'But like so much of the Shantallow of the past it has been demolished to pave the way for new facilities, that's what happened the old racecourse. Its great to see new developments that bring Shantallow into the future,  but equally heart-breaking to say goodbye to pieces of our history that have made our community what it is, I suppose the street name Racecourse Road will always be an everlasting reminder of what was once there'. 

Having a passion for helping others, Anne had a long and rewarding career caring for the elderly, working for both the Nazareth House and William Street care homes. 'I was there twenty-four years before I had to stop working due to ill health retirement. I had a bad back and it was just impossible for me to meet the needs of the clients with the pain I was in so I had no choice but to call it a day. It absolutely broke my heart and really left me very down.  I feel so fulfilled from looking after others so it wasn't just the end of my employment, it was the end of doing something I loved and how rewarded that made me feel.  It left it very down, suffering a depression that I wasn't used to and hadn't ever been affected by previously.  Getting up, getting out and helping people was all that I knew for over half my lifetime, and now here I was fighting for sick pay and feeling really down because I wasn't getting to live out my passion.

Anne credits her immediate family and husband for getting her through the next four years, particularly her sister Marion who had a 'get up and get on with it'  attitude.  They never let me wallow or feel sorry for myself.  They were always suggesting new skills for me to try and feed my love of learning. Some I liked, like barbering which I completed a Level 1 in, and some I didn't like, like computers.   Her niece Natalie mentioned that Anne might be interested in a new Community led digital archive hub 'The Forge' The Forge 'Northside Digital Archiving Hub which she had heard about, and Anne's curiosity was ignited! 'You have to understand, memories and photographs are my most treasured possessions.  There is nothing more important to me than my photos, they are magic. Little moments of history captured in an image that lasts forever, and here was a fab new initiative on my very own doorstep that was going to allow me to indulge in my hobby! I was absolutely ecstatic, I felt like all my Christmases had come at once!.  I joined The Forge as a volunteer and never looked back.  I look forward to Wednesday and Thursday each week and it really is my me-time. I am a better wife, mother, grandmother because of how volunteering makes me feel.  

I love meeting the Northside over 50 club and showing them all the old footage of days gone by, and watching their faces, listening to their conversations and memories flood back to them.  We take a walk down memory lane together and it truly is when I am at my happiest.  I love to learn and through The Forge I have become more skilled at computers which is transferable skills to real life and in the modern world- this makes me feel a lot more confident and I have even been able to visit the FabLab at Skeoge Fabsocial: Skeoge Unit 37 which is connected to the Forge.  I learned to use lasers which I never thought I would ever do and made wee fairies for my friends and families! Volunteering helps me push myself into new things and I gain more confidence with every activity.

Michael and Terry who also volunteer in the Forge are so helpful and patient. No matter how many times I ask them the same question they answer as if it is the first time I ask and they can support any learning style- If you like to be shown how to do things, then they will show you but if you like to go and try it yourself then they will give you that space. 

If you are thinking about volunteering, my advice is go for it! It will be the best thing you ever did.  Come see us and meet our team and you will see there is a unique space for you in our team'. 

 

How would you describe yourself? Well I know what other people would describe me as! I would say I am someone who likes to stay busy and keeps going.  My brother says I am like a butterfly just going from one leaf to another from day to night.  I am determined, I don't quit.  Even with my problems with my back, I attend a chiropractor which is a cost anyone could be doing without but I'm not happy just to be medicated and unable to move, I need to do anything I can in my power that allows me to be in control and able to live the life I want.

What's your most embarrassing moment? There are millions so I will just use the most recent.  I took my aunt to her chemist in Moville for her prescription and didn't realise I needed to pay a levy, so I ran out to the car to get money.  My husband was in the drivers seat and literally one minute he seen me running towards him, then he said I disappeared.  I was laying splattered on the ground after tripping on the kerb, how embarrassing, right outside Susie's bar. 

What makes you laugh? Being in company, talking about times gone by.  The laugh we have in The Forge too, Michael and Terry are a double act with the banter between the two of them.

What is the best compliment you have ever received? My poor mother died of cancer and very recently I was told was the image of her.  I had never heard this growing up, and often heard my sisters be told this so it was so heart-warming and emotional to hear that I was becoming very like her at this point in my life.  We cared for my mother until the end and on her deathbed she said that she would do It all again. After raising eleven of us there are just no words to describe what this meant to us and to truly how much she had loved her life.

What makes you happy? My family. There is a happiness you get from just being content, safe and well and knowing everyone you love is too.

What makes you angry? Corrupt or poor governments, and big companies that hold back things which would help the words problems – foods, cures etc.

What has been the high point of your life to date?  The birth of my children and grandchildren.  

And with the highs come the lows, what has been your low point? Without a doubt the passing of my mother. 

How would you like to be remembered? Fun loving and caring. Well I call it caring, some would call it interfering!!!

Do you have a motto? Yes, we are human beings not human doings. We don't have it all together and we should be easier on ourselves.

Finally, You are incredibly passionate about your community, what in particular about Shantallow in your opinion has ignited this for you?  In Mayola, people are so helpful.  The whole street help each other, there are occasions where my sister or someone else could be cooking for the entire street, every single house.  We are all like extended family, we don't even have to ask for something if the worst happens, everyone is there ready to wrap there arms around you and help you through your time of need.

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