Dr Gwen Owen, 95, became chair of VSO Gloucestershire supporter group 45 years ago. Today she is still honourary chair, taking part in a series of street collections every year.

Meet the 96-year-old who helped raise £50,000 for VSO

Over the past 40 years, Gwen Owen has helped raise an estimated £50,000 for VSO, supporting better education, health and livelihoods for the world's least privileged people. Gwen says collecting for a good cause isn't just satisfying, it's keeping her young.

Gwen Owen, honorary chair of VSO Gloucestershire Supporter Group, leads a collection in Stroud, UK.

I’ve been collecting for VSO as part of the Gloucestershire Supporter Group since 1978. We started with two or three collections a year; now it's 11 collections across the Cotswolds every summer.

I always help out, whatever the weather! I enjoy street collecting because I like talking to people. Being quite elderly, sitting on a stool looking rather pathetic, means people come up and talk to me. I always enjoy that.

Street collecting puts me in touch with people, and that’s important when you live on your own.

The importance of helping other people

I’m a supporter of VSO because I’ve always been interested in the world, I suppose. I travelled a lot. My sister was a geographer, and when we both retired we toured the world.

I enjoy raising money for people less privileged than myself. In other parts of the world people are being stopped from what they want to do because they haven't had education, or medical care, or the same chances. I have had a very privileged life in all sorts of ways.

If we’re not careful, we can all become a bit self-centred. It's good if one can look past the immediate and see other people not so privileged, and do something about it.


Young in spirit

Street collecting puts me in touch with people, and that’s important when you live on your own.

I don’t always feel young physically but I do feel young in spirit. I enjoy life.

I’m pretty tough really. I think it’s the way I was brought up. My father was a carpenter; we hadn’t all that much money to play with. So I suppose we were brought up to be careful, to work hard, to be kind, thoughtful, and friendly.

Now that I’m 96, I just I want to go on as long as I can helping other people, through street collections or anything else I can do to help.

A huge contribution

Affer 40 years, I can tell you that people are just as generous now as they ever were. As a supporter group we hope to raise between £2000 and £2500 over the course of the year.

Since I’ve been involved in the group, the total raised must be over £50,000. I’m always pleased to think I have helped raise that amount of money – pity we can’t do more, but there you are.


Find out how you can join Gwen in supporting VSO. We would like to extend a warm thanks to Gwen and to all our supporters - we couldn't do it without you.

Support VSO

Latest posts

Celia, 12, sits in front of some damaged school tables after Cyclone Idai
© VSO/Mario Mácilau

Girls at risk worldwide as lockdown continues

Girls are at increased risk of child marriage, violence and stigma while schools remain closed. From Kenya, to Mozambique, to Nepal, find out what VSO is doing to support.

Two fisherwomen, Samngath and Thorn, smiling
©VSO/Sue Turbett

The ripple effect of volunteering

One good deed can make waves long into the future. Find out how one Cambodian community is continuing to benefit from a project that concluded in 2018.

Close up of the hands of a VSO ICS team in Battambang, Cambodia
VSO

Social inclusion, gender, and Black Lives Matter

Reflecting on our global work to address issues of diversity, inclusion, equality and anti-discrimination.