PATRICIA Irene 'Pat' Dashwood, well known for working with community centres for over 50 years, has died at the age of 81.

One of seven children, Pat was born and educated in Poole and lived in Newtown, Alderney and Wallisdown. She was only 11 years old when her mother died and as she was the eldest daughter took on the responsibility of looking after her brothers and sisters. This would prepare her for running a household and all she achieved later in life.

She met and married Arthur in 1954, the start of a 61 year marriage, having three children, Margaret, Robert and Sally-Ann, which produced five grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

"She loved spending time with her family," said her daughter Sally-Ann Webb.

In her working life Pat had a variety of jobs. She was a secretary, an area manager of a leaflet distribution company, worked in sales and later ran the refreshment kiosk at Seaview until she retired.

"A big part of her life was working with community centres in Poole for over 50 years. Together with Arthur, they helped set up Alderney Manor Community Centre and the Bourne Valley Community Centre. Pat became the local representative for the National Federation of Community Centres, giving advice and support to many throughout Poole and the wider Dorset as was needed," said Sally-Ann.

In 2004 Pat was recognised for her voluntary work and received the Poole Outstanding Achievement for Volunteering Award, presented by the Mayor.

"She was a great organiser of fetes, outings, fund raising and anything else that was needed. Arthur and Pat were a good team. They were 'trouble shooters', key holders, providers of transport, activity leaders and friends to many. If there was any trouble with the centres they were sent for. The community centres were their life, they were there nearly every day," said Sally-Ann.

Chris Beale, Chief Executive of Poole Council for Voluntary Services, said, "A lot of Pat's work went unseen, to be able to do this for such a long time is a testament to her strength of character and her commitment to those around her. It is not only the sheer amount of volunteering and the skill she brought to it that people will remember, but the many small acts of kindness Pat did for people when they most needed it."

"Pat's links with the community in Alderney and Rossmore and the wider voluntary sector of Poole was a great inspiration to other community centres, we owe Pat a huge debt of gratitude."

Her family said," Pat was a lady with a big heart who touched many lives. Everyone will miss her."

Pat died in Poole Hospital on March 24 and her funeral was held at Poole Crematorium on April 10.