Three decades of helping friends in need

A 'BEAUTIFUL HEART': Cathie Carruthers on her last day after 30-plus years volunteering at Salvation Army stores.
A 'BEAUTIFUL HEART': Cathie Carruthers on her last day after 30-plus years volunteering at Salvation Army stores.

"You are helping people. That's what I have always wanted to do, just help people."

With those simple words, retired nurse Cathie Carruthers summed up exactly why she's worked without pay for 30-plus years.

Mrs Carruthers, who hails from the Scottish highlands, has worked for the Salvation Army in New Zealand for more than three decades, starting as a volunteer in Christchurch.

Yesterday she was farewelled by staff at the Nelson Salvation Army store, where her "beautiful heart" will be sorely missed. Not one to remain idle, Mrs Carruthers sometimes worked at the Salvation Army store in Motueka, too.

The 87-year-old said her declining health was the only reason she would not be returning to the charitable work she had long loved. "I've thoroughly enjoyed the work I have done over the years," she said.

"It was a nice way to meet people. You get to know the people and their family and get to know who really needs help, because they are the ones who won't ask for it."

She said it was always lovely seeing second generation family members walk through the Salvation Army's doors, with praise and thanks for the help she had given years earlier.

Nelson store manager Margaret Earney said that Mrs Carruthers was a remarkable woman.

"It's an amazing feat that you have been here that long," she said.

"It's amazing they have kept me," Mrs Carruthers quipped. "I'll probably be a nuisance, keep coming in and saying hello," she added, suggesting that her retirement from volunteering would hardly be a feet-up type affair.

"I'll try and get out and about more. I belong to the Oddfellows' Lodge. We collect money and give to different charities each year, from cancer, to wheelchairs, to funding for guide dogs for the blind."

Mrs Carruthers has worked for that United Kingdom based fraternity-charity for more than 30 years too, and that would no doubt keep her busy and active in the years to come. "It would drive me mad just looking at four walls. I would feel like I was in prison."

The Nelson Mail