Dales People: Farm worker's daughter who is dedicated to community service
DAUGHTER of a farm worker, Linda Bird was born in Corbridge, Northumberland, but came to Teesdale at an early age when her father took over a local farm.
She went to junior school at Bowes and to Barnard Castle Grammar Technical School, now Teesdale School.
She worked in the Darlington Borough Council housing department for ten years and moved to the University of Sunderland to manage student accommodation.
After attaining an MBA, her work there evolved to people and organisation development, which included helping the university gain Charter Mark and retaining its Investor in People status.
Linda retired at 57 and had three particularly happy years with her devoted husband, John, who had also retired. He was well known in the area, but sadly died in 2015. They had no children.
As a retiree living on her own, Linda has used her time, energy and organisational experience to help a number of charities active in Teesdale and beyond.
She is chairwoman of Abbeyfield Barnard Castle, which provides supported housing with extra care for ten older people in Abbeyfield House, Galgate.
“We have an ongoing project to create a sensory garden at Abbeyfield where residents and visitors can sit out and enjoy the fresh air and watch the world go by,” says Linda.
“We plan to make it available for community use”.
Linda is on the Teesdale Action Partnership board which awards grants to local organisations and community groups to benefit their users and their community.
She is also on the board of Durham Community Action which supports volunteering and local community groups. She was a long-serving trustee of North Star Housing, which provides social housing in Teesdale, Teesside and adjacent areas.
For good measure, Linda is a board member of the Friends of The Bowes Museum and a member of the Barnard Castle Dementia Friendly Community Group.
During the course of her work, Linda has found herself “in many tricky situations” but declines to give details.
“I could tell you many tales, but these are confidential to the people involved,” she says.
Linda is just one of many individuals who devote a large part of their time and energy to the much-needed voluntary work that is the glue that holds the Teesdale community together.
“We do it because there is a need, and without it so many vulnerable people would be far worse off,” she says.