It takes more than a pandemic to stop Ania’s work in the community

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Ania Driver, welfare officer for Lyme Regis Royal British Legion, with branch chairman Ian Marshall (photo by Richard Austin)

IAN Marshall, chairman of the Lyme Regis branch of the Royal British Legion pays tribute to an extraordinary woman…

Ania Driver was in the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing service in Malta where she met and married her Royal Marine husband Terry Driver.

It was during their married life in Manchester that Terry contracted a serious illness. He had always loved Lyme Regis and the family decided that they would move to Lyme so that he could enjoy the rest of his life in our town.

Whilst in Lyme Regis, the Royal British Legion was able to offer practical help in modifying their home to make caring for Terry a less arduous daily experience.

Ania has been eternally grateful for the generous support the Legion has given to her family and has sought to repay the Legion’s kindness in so many ways.

She has been a stalwart member of the Lyme Regis branch’s Community Support Team for more than 15 years. Having been a recipient of past assistance, she knows only too well the immense benefit and comfort that this service is able to provide.

Ania does not drive but, despite that limitation, she has trudged the steep, hilly roads and streets of Lyme Regis on a monthly basis to visit a number of beneficiaries residing within the local care homes, in all weathers, and never complains. She is a welcome face to so many of the care home residents.

Recently, to mark a significant birthday which fell in the year of the 100th anniversary of the ending of the Great War, Ania approached me to gauge my reaction to her suggestion to attempt a free-fall parachute decent with the famous Red Devils.

My immediate reaction was to recall an often-made remark by late father, a World War Two Blenheim pilot, that why anyone would wish to jump out of a perfectly serviceable aircraft was lunacy. However, the intrepid Ania was not to be thwarted and she bravely completed her jump in June 2018 and raised in excess of £1,300 for the Legion – a wonderful achievement.

She also makes greetings cards which she sells at fetes and events and the proceeds all go to the Poppy Appeal.

Ania, together with her colleague Jacqui Ward, the Lyme Regis Poppy Appeal organiser, assists with the organisation and management of the annual poppy collections in Lyme Regis and both ladies also set up an appropriate display in a local shop window each year, as well as participating in all the local charity events.

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Ania outside Abbeyfield, where she is currently volunteering during the pandemic

Finally, Ania, who was born in Poland always sings the Polish national anthem at the Polish Airmen’s Memorial in Anning Road during the short commemoration ceremony over the Remembrance weekend.

She and Jacqui were instrumental in pushing for a Legion Touch Point to be set up in Lyme Regis. Thanks to their efforts and enthusiasm they have trained and qualified as Information Volunteers.

The arrival of COVID-19 has dulled the momentum of this initiative, but I’m sure the ladies will be planning to re-open as soon as possible.

With the pandemic currently raging, Ania’s wings have only been slightly clipped. She is no longer able to visit many of her beneficiaries either in care homes or their own homes so has decided to do the next best thing and move into one of the care homes full time to assist the hard working care staff whom we all know are under immense stress at this moment. She is helping with cooking, cleaning, caring for the residents ,of which three are members of British Legion, at Abbeyfield.

The Lyme Regis branch is immensely proud of Ania’s life of service and dedication to the our community, especially the selfless sacrifice she has made during this ongoing pandemic period and thank her personally and publicly for all that she has done for the Royal British Legion.

Woodmead Halls
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