Lincolnshire pensioner Maurice Keyte rewarded for 400 shifts on ChildLine phones
Pensioner Maurice Keyte has been rewarded for his continued support of the national charity ChildLine. He has received a Diamond Champion Women's Royal Voluntary Service award after clocking up 400 shifts working on the charity's phones. Reporter Sam Morris spoke to the 68-year-old to find out more...
From calls about surviving gang culture to pleas for advice on how to find a lost toy, Maurice Keyte never knows what challenge will greet him when he picks up the phone.
But through it all, the 68-year-old says the sense of being able to help youngsters in distress is what keeps him going back for more - even when the subject matter is unfamiliar to him.
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"I sometimes get calls about gang culture from children worried they won't 'fit in' and it is all very alien to me," said the former Lincolnshire County Council IT consultant.
"But we have a great team of supervisors who help us to help the children.
"We get some much simpler calls such as children phoning up who have lost things.
"Very young children often ring about losing their favourite toy and it is then all about giving them some confidence to be able to go and tell their parents.
"Of course, we get lots of calls about bullying, with cyber bullying the big thing at the moment.
"Our job is about supporting the child and making them realise that they are not on their own."
Mr Keyte, from Dunholme, became involved with ChildLine in 2003.
While working at the council, he was involved in producing pantomimes for children's charities and it was from these experiences he decided to volunteer for ChildLine.
"I always said that I wanted to do something to help vulnerable children," he said.
"So when I retired, I thought there was no better time and decided to volunteer.
"I have learnt lots during my 400 shifts, including the need to put your own feelings aside.
"Sometimes you do get angry with some of the things you hear happening to children, but you have to keep calm and make sure you are doing the best for them.
"It is so rewarding doing what I do, especially when you hear about a problem which has been solved whether it be after your call with a child or a series of calls of which you were part."
Mr Keyte received the WRVS award late last year and he says it is an honour to be recognised.
"It is very nice to be noticed but it is most definitely a team effort," he said.
"If you put effort into something it is nice for people to say thank you and that is what has happened."
ChildLine service manager, Gaynor Birnie, is grateful to Mr Keyte for dedicating his time to helping children and young people.
She said: "I find it inspiring that people like Maurice keep giving their time and energy to help others even when they have retired.
"On behalf of everyone here at ChildLine I would like to say a huge thank you to him for his many hours of voluntary service."