Charity thanks stalwart duo

Jean Mills, left, with Contact Morpeth Mental Health centre manager Audrey Anderson.
Jean Mills, left, with Contact Morpeth Mental Health centre manager Audrey Anderson.

Two people who played an important part in the development of a Morpeth-based charity have stood down from their decision-making roles.

Staff at Contact Morpeth Mental Health recently did a thank you presentation to David Livesey and Jean Mills for their efforts whilst on the organisation’s committee.

And as Mr Livesey – who will soon be moving to Louth in Lincolnshire with wife Cynthia – was the former chairman, the organisation has some new blood at the helm as Rhona Dunn has taken up the position.

Mrs Mills has been involved with Contact for nearly 25 years. She started by helping out in the kitchen when founder Gena Fleming was looking for more volunteers to provide assistance for what was then a small support group based at 7A Bridge Street.

She joined the committee a few years later and as the charity began to help more people with mental health issues, it received a lottery grant which enabled it to expand its services. As part of the award, Cynthia Livesey was appointed as its chief executive.

“We raised awareness of the group as best we could and we had a lot of support from St George’s Hospital in the early years,” said Mrs Mills.

“You had to be able to sit down and talk with the people who came through our doors and make them feel welcome and comfortable.

“Some days were not happy days, but you did what you could to raise your spirits. And I have many happy memories and it’s fantastic when you see someone get better and improve their confidence.”

Over the years, she has been involved in organising outings, social activities such as barbecues and entertainment evenings.

The charity continued to go from strength-to-strength and it moved again to 36 Bridge Street in the middle of the last decade. Even bigger premises in Oldgate were found four years ago when it needed a new base.

Mrs Mills added: “We put on more activities now than when we were in Bridge Street, there are more counsellors and we’re more technically minded.

“I’m staying on as a volunteer because I like helping out here and I didn’t want to sever my ties completely.

“I have made quite a few new friends, met some interesting people, and because of my association with Contact, I was invited to a Buckingham Palace garden party after we received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.”

Mr Livesey started volunteering for Contact in 1996, the year his wife was appointed. He joined the committee in 1999 and took over as chairman in 2012.

He was part of the team that organised the move to Oldgate and 25th anniversary celebrations in the same year (2011).

“I have enjoyed my time at Contact immensely and I was grateful and flattered to be asked to become chairman,” said Mr Livesey.

“The charity has come on leaps and bounds and credit must go to Cynthia, the other staff and the committee members over the years. I’m pleased that Rhona has taken over as chairman – she certainly isn’t short of energy.”

Mrs Dunn is well-known in the town for her efforts in the community. She is aiming to raise the profile of the organisation, which supports people with mental health issues by enabling their self-development and recovery, through various activities.

Contact centre manager Audrey Anderson said: “Jean and David have made an enormous contribution to the charity’s development and they will be a big miss on the committee.

“We’re delighted that Jean is staying on as a volunteer as it maintains some continuity.”