Tributes have been paid to a woman who was well-known in Carlisle for volunteering for people with learning difficulties.

Val Hind, from Upperby, sadly passed away on Friday after a short battle with coronavirus which saw her hospitalised on Christmas Day.

Sheila Gregory, CEO of Mencap, has known Val for more than 20 years and paid tribute to the lady that was "one of a kind."

“She was a very formidable lady, like a lot of carers of people with learning difficulties have to be,” explained Sheila.

“She was a lady that just wanted to help people.”

Most of the volunteering she did and the clubs she organised were done “off her own bat” with the help of her friends.

Sheila continued: “She was very tenacious, very determined, very consistent.”

For years Val and her friends ran clubs, including ORCID Club and many disco nights.

Each Wednesday, at The Sands Centre, she ran a club, along with the monthly discos and trips to the pantomime and Newcastle.

Up to 50 people would attend these groups on a weekly basis because they were so popular.

“She was a really determined lady, really kind, a good organiser," added Sheila.

“It was very much proper volunteering, not under the head of any organisation. She was just a community person volunteering.

“It was so impressive what they used to do. They retired from it about 18 months ago and we’ve been running the groups ever since, until Covid came along.”

Although Val wasn’t a Mencap member of staff or volunteer, she was a member of Mencap more than 20 years ago.

Sheila continued: “She was very much part of the community.”

Val spent many years caring for a niece, Julie, who had learning difficulties and despite testing positive for Covid-19 she continued to do this until she was no longer able to.

“She’d always looked after her niece, Julie, for many, many years,” added Sheila.

“Val always kept you right. She was very much dedicated.”

Val didn’t suffer long with the virus. Shortly before Christmas, she received a positive test and in the days leading to Christmas Day, her situation worsened before she had to be taken into hospital.

She sadly passed away on Friday.

Sheila said: “At first she said she’d be able to manage and then it got worse and had to go into hospital on Christmas Day.

“Val was typical of all the unpaid carers of those with learning difficulties - it’s such a difficult time for them.

“There is very little help and a lot of things they normally do is closed. So they are very much on their own struggling and doing their best which is what Val did.”

Mencap Carlisle put a post on Facebook paying tribute to Val and since then tributes came flooding in about how wonderful she was and how she’ll be missed.