A VOLUNTEER at Frenchay Hospital has met HRH The Duchess of Cornwall after being named a Diamond Champion.

Alan Alford, who volunteers for the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) at Frenchay Hospital and drives patients to St Peter’s Hospice in Brentry, met Prince Charles’ wife Camilla at Lancaster House in London during a lavish reception to honour him and other volunteers from across the UK.

The 78-year-old is a familiar face at Frenchay where he takes a trolley around the wards giving patients a friendly face and the opportunity to purchase any items they might need and making their stay a little easier.

He is credited with always greeting the patients with a friendly word and a smile and will often go the extra mile to make sure everyone has what they would like, returning to the shop to collect additional items when requested. He is said to always be available for additional duties at short notice, covering other volunteers who are unable to do their shift.

Mr Alfrod, who also drives for Bristol City Council’s Contact the Elderly scheme, uses his own car to pick up older people. In addition to all his volunteering the pensioner has completed four half marathons in the last five years, despite having two hip replacements and a knee replacement, raising thousands of pounds for various children’s charities.

He was picked as a Diamond Champion for the South West by the RVS (formerly WRVS) from 2,186 nominations. Sponsored by McCarthy and Stone and supported by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall in her capacity as president of the charity, the scheme celebrates the contribution that people over the age of 60 make to society through volunteering.

Carl Smith, RVS head of operations for the South West, said: "We were delighted to hold a reception to celebrate the contribution of older volunteers in the South West. They are truly deserving of the honour and it is justified recognition of the selfless work they do in their communities to help others.

“With an ageing population, the work Royal Voluntary Service does to support older people is going to become ever more important and we hope that we will be able to recruit more volunteers to help older people live independently in their own homes.”

Mr Alford was one of 12 Diamond Champions selected by a judging panel including Patricia Routledge, Baroness Smith, Daily Express editor Hugh Whitto and McCarthy and Stone executive director Ali Crossley.

He received a specially designed Diamond Champions pin and a certificate signed by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.