Irene Collins thought she was in for a fun night out when she joined family members in the audience for a taping of new Channel 5 variety show Jane McDonald and Friends.
She was taken aback when the host stopped to talk to her - and stunned when a video was shown featuring messages of praise for her charity work (a key element of the show is to recognise those who perform good deeds). There was a further surprise when Ms McDonald presented her with a pair of tickets for a cruise to the Maldives, Sri Lanka and India - "something that I would never have done in a million years”.
Mrs Collins is co-chair of the Ladies' Jewish Committee, part of Yorkshire Cancer Research, and has helped to raise more than £1 million during a 35-year involvement.
She told the JC that although the committee is run by Jewish women, “we raise money for everyone. That’s what I like about it. We are representing Jewish people in our community by helping those that need it, Jewish or not."
Mrs Collins, a long-time member of the Beth Hamidrash Hagadol Synagogue in Leeds, said that after losing her brother to cancer 20 years ago, she was determined to raise awareness of the disease.
She also organises activities for the older members of her shul and is a befriender for Leeds Jewish Welfare Board. “I meet up with people who are on their own and take them out. I get so much out of it." She wants to get more people interested in volunteering, “because what you give, you get back. You also make friendships with people you otherwise wouldn’t speak to.”