A WOMAN who dedicates her time to adults with learning disabilities is up for a Pride of South Tyneside award.
Irene Lawson runs the XL Club at Hebburn Community Centre – a haven where people can get together once a week with friends.
The 57-year-old, from Jarrow, has been nominated for Carer of the Year, which is sponsored by clothing company Barbour.
She was put forward by Lynne Buddin, who regularly takes residents of the care home she works at along to the group, at its Argyle Street site.
She said: “Irene is fulfilling an amazing service. The best part about it is the relaxed social atmosphere that encourages friendships.
“Due to her lovely, warm, caring attitude, the group quickly outgrew the first room they booked and have moved to a larger hall within the same building.
“I know what a special carer she is, and now I want the whole of South Tyneside to know as well.”
To nominate someone for a Pride of South Tyneside award, fill in the form in today’s paper, or do it online by following this link.
Ms Lawson, a mum-of-one and step-gran-of-two, who runs the club voluntarily, said: “The group is all about people who can come together with friends and have a lot of fun.
“We do things like crafts, table top games and all sorts of other activities. I’ve worked for 40 years with the local authority with adults with learning disabilities.
“The club used to run on a Wednesday evening for years but then it stopped, and I really missed the people so I decided to start it back up again.
“We’ve been at Hebburn Community Centre since last July, and we held a vote with the remaining members to come up with a name.
“They picked The Excellent Club, but we shortened it to XL Club instead.
“We started with just seven members and now we have 36 who regularly come along every Tuesday afternoon.”
She added: “I told Lynne that I’m honoured she’s nominated me for this award but I don’t need anything like this.
“My reward is when I come into the club and the members come up to me with a big smile on their face to give me a hug and they want to sit and play a game with me.
“I’ve worked with some of these people for 40 years now and I’ve been running the club for 35 years so they really are like family.”
The club runs from 10am to 2pm every Tuesday. New members are welcome.