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A charitable couple have been announced as winners of the Service to Earley award for their contributions to the town.

Barrie and Jean Theobald received a letter of recognition from Earley Town Council last week and the couple agreed it was a pleasant surprise.

Mr Theobald said: “It’s the last thing we expected, it was completely out of the blue.”

The couple have been married for 55 years, living in Sevenoaks Road throughout their marriage. Mr Theobald said: “We moved to Earley 55 years ago because we thought it was a good place to live. It had good transport links back then with Earley train station in walking distance and the Three Tuns crossroads bus link.

“I never thought I would leave Devon, where I was raised, but I’m glad I chose Earley, I couldn’t think of anywhere else I would rather live.”

The couple’s children attended Aldryngton School in Earley, and it was at this time in 1968 they first became involved in school fundraising, running various stalls including hoopla and a tombola.

Barrie, 80, and Jean, 79, began a Friday night bingo club in 1971, still raising funds for Aldryngton. The sessions have now moved to Kenton Road Earley Day Centre, where the Theobalds work tirelessly.

Mr Theobald was also a Servant of the Sanctuary at Earley St Peter’s Church for more than 30 years, adapting to the role of head server towards the latter stages, before he was forced to step down due to ill health.

Mr Theobald said: “We both think that helping others is a normal way of life.”

Mrs Theobald added that the couple’s charity work wasn’t for recognition. She said: “We didn’t do these things to be recognised.”

And she said that Earley is more than just a place to live. “It is home to us and we care about all the people around us. We don’t like to see too much change. We have seen a lot of change in 55 years and not always for the better.”

Mr and Mrs Theobald will be presented with their award at the Earley Town Council offices on Wednesday, May 20.