Former Ottery chemist can’t believe voluntary award

A West Hill pensioner and former chemist in Ottery was shocked and surprised at her award for nearly twenty years of voluntary work.

Ruth Wright, 76, travelled to London last week to receive the prestigious medal of the Order of Mercy for her work with the Ottery and District Help Scheme.

But Ruth, who ran Wright’s chemist in the town with her husband for 25 years, said she doesn’t feel she deserved the award, saying she has never done anything which she didn’t enjoy doing.

She has spent 17 years with the community help scheme since retiring, and travelled down to the awards ceremony at The Mansion House in the City of London last Wednesday.

She picked up the medal from the League of Mercy in the company of the Sheriff of London, and The Rt Hon Francis Maude MP, Cabinet Minister for The Big Society.

Even in victory though Ruth was extremely modest, saying collecting the award was a very humbling experience, meeting a thalidomide victim who had done great work for charity.

She became involved with the scheme, which provides help and companionship to those who need it in the area, and has been driving people who cant get around themselves ever since. She said of her voluntary work: “When you’ve been serving the public for all those years it just felt natural to keep spending time helping people.”

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Ruth brought up her son and two daughters in Ottery in their house above the chemist before she retired to West Hill with her husband, and both he and one of her daughters came with her to pick up the award.

The Rt Hon the Lord Lingfield, President of the League of Mercy said “Mrs Ruth Wright has done extraordinary work for the welfare of others. She is a marvellous example of someone who has given wonderful service to her community and we were delighted to be able, on the recommendation of the charity, to make this well deserved award.”

The League of Mercy was originally created in 1899 for the encouragement and recognition of voluntary work in hospitals and the community.

It was revived as a charity in 1999 and now continues the work of the original founder, the then Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII.