Page last updated at 14:48 GMT, Monday, 19 January 2009

Training success of volunteer, 97

Betty Mitchell
Betty Mitchell serves tea, coffee, sandwiches and Chelsea buns

A 97-year-old woman who is one of the oldest members of the Women's Royal Voluntary Service (WRVS) is celebrating after gaining a qualification.

Betty Mitchell has been helping in the WRVS tea shop in Cardiff Royal Infirmary (CRI) for 33 years.

But new regulations mean WRVS members who work with food have to sit a test in kitchen hygiene and safety.

Miss Mitchell, from Cardiff, took part in a lecture before sitting a test, which she passed with flying colours.

It is the latest achievement for the pensioner, who served patients and staff at the hospital every Monday and Friday for 30 years after retiring as a typist.

She cut back her hours about three years ago, but still insists on turning up for work every Monday at 8am and is on her feet until lunchtime.

I've always been active and think that helps. I've also been very blessed with good health
Betty Mitchell

"I've made lots of friends working here and it's good to come here and see them," said Miss Mitchell, who turns 98 in April and lives in the city with her nephew and his family.

"I've always been active and think that helps. I've also been very blessed with good health."

Miss Mitchell is taken to work every Monday morning by her great nephew and is taken home in a taxi.

Throughout the morning, she makes sandwiches and bakes Chelsea buns on demand, while continually serving tea and coffee.

As with all WRVS volunteers who work with food, Miss Mitchell had to take part in training as part of new regulations.

Betty Mitchell with Floss Heatley and Samantha Annetts
Betty was presented with flowers from her colleagues after passing the test

She said: "We had a lecture and then did an exam with questions like what temperature should the fridge be, what different bacteria there are and hygiene.

"I was very proud to pass and receive my certificate. I'm quite chuffed really."

Across the UK, the WRVS currently has 23 volunteers aged between 95 and 99. Two are still helping even though they are over 100.

In the CRI Miss Mitchell has become "inspirational" to her eight fellow volunteers, who are all aged over 60.

Friend and fellow WRVS member Floss Heatley, from Cardiff, who is 80 on Tuesday, said: "She's wonderful, I sing her praises to everyone."

Samantha Annetts, WRVS volunteer project manager, said: "Betty's brilliant, really, really good. She's definitely an inspiration. I don't think a lot of people know how old she actually is because she doesn't look her age. But she's one of the oldest WRVS volunteers."

Tim Riggot, learning and development manager for WRVS, added: "Betty has demonstrated that you are never too old to learn new skills."

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