Eighty-year-old Mavis Miles was so busy working in the village shop that when she looked at her mail she just assumed the letter from the Diocese was a flyer and put it to one side.
It wasn’t until a few days later when her vicar Revd Sherry Bryan asked her if she’d received a letter from the Bishop that Mavis realised she’d better open her post and inside, Mavis was surprised to find a letter telling her she was to receive a Cross of St Piran award.
“I was gobsmacked! I had never heard of the Cross of St Piran awards before. I don’t think anyone in Blisland has ever had one so it’s a good thing for all the village.”
Mavis, or ‘The Queen of Raffles’ as she is known in Blisland, has lived in the village for 78 years having moved there as a two-year-old from Helland. “I have always been involved in community life. I am raffling all the time. I provide the prizes because I see that as my contribution but we have raised a lot of money.”
Mavis is known as such a good fundraiser that when they were looking to raise money for a new building for the village shop and Post Office, it was Mavis who was approached for help. “I was asked to raise money for the shop and I still am. We make about £200 to £300 every year.”
In fact Mavis, along with others, made such a valiant effort they raised £23,000 in total and with grants, they were able to provide the new building.
But Mavis didn’t stop there. She also works in the shop which is open six days a week. “I love it. It’s a real community centre. We have always had a shop, pub and post office but with age things can fade away. Here there has been a real voluntary effort to keep these things within the village.”
Mavis’ family were Methodists and although they were not regular church attenders, Mavis has always been part of the church in Blisland. “I’m the Sergeant Major at the church! I go down there early every Sunday and get it all ready for when Sherry and the church warden arrive. Afterwards I make sure it’s all locked up. I also help out at funerals, meeting people as they arrive and helping them find seats.”
Many of Mavis’ fellow church goers will be attending the Cross of St Piran awards to see Mavis receive her cross. “Everyone knows I have been given the award because Sherry has announced it in church for the last three weeks! We are a close knit group and enjoy socialising together. We’re all helping hands, all together.”
Revd Sherry Bryan, who nominated Mavis, said: “Mavis is one of those ubiquitous people at church and village events. She can usually be seen rushing round with a bunch of raffle tickets and her raffle results are legendary. She collects for the church, the shop or whoever needs a collection. Her second title is ‘Queen of Raffles’ which is an apt description. Mavis worked very hard for several years to raise money for the Community Shop and Post Office. The Church would be absolutely lost without Mavis’s oversight and constant presence. She is unpaid verger, sacristan and general factotum and is incredibly aware of what needs to be done. She is an extremely good neighbour and very kind, seeming to know instinctively where there is a problem or a need, which she then seeks to help sort out.”