RED Cross volunteer for 60 years, Ethel Parson, has died at the age of 86.

Born in Halifax, Yorkshire, Ethel left school at the age of 16 to work in the accounts department of a coppersmith.

She met her husband David on a walking holiday in the Peak District and the couple had a long distance relationship for three years as David, who was a power station engineer, was living and working in Poole.

After they married in 1956 Ethel moved to Poole and despite not knowing the town, she settled into a routine making a home for herself and their three children, Julia, Kathryn and John.

The family had to move around the country several times because of David's job, including periods in Reading and South Wales.

In 1970 they settled down in Lymington after David was employed at Fawley power station.

Ethel started to be involved with the Red Cross when she was a cadet as a teenager and by the time they were living in Lymington, helped out at the local branch.

"Her interest in first aid led to her acquiring skills and volunteering in a range of roles, from washing feet in a chiropody clinic, to putting elderly people to bed at Linden House nursing home, to staffing the Red Cross beach hut at Milford," said her daughter Julia Morgan.

As a first aider, Ethel was often on call at large events such as the New Forest Show, point to point races, the Royal Windsor Show, as well as an American football match.

She helped organise the Red Cross float at Lymington Carnival, dressing up in numerous outfits such as Humpty Dumpty and a surgeon.

When the Red Cross opened a charity shop in Lymington in 1995 Ethel was a dedicated volunteer, helping out in the shop every Thursday morning, enjoying meeting and assisting the customers.

On two separate occasions Ethel was recognised for her service and dedication to the Red Cross and was invited to garden parties at Buckingham Palace.

Ethel and David were members of the Methodist Church and she was involved with their fundraising and catering activities.

When David was a scout leader, Ethel organised fundraising for a new scout hut in Pennington and helped at the tombola stall in the High Street for several years.

"She was a great organiser. She always got things done and sorted everyone out. She was a traditional homemaker and used those skills outside the home to help other people and organisations. But she never really wanted to be the centre of attention," said Julia.

David said," She was someone who just wanted to help others in whatever way she could. She was very honest and worried about being fair and true. She looked after me and never worried much about her own health."

A service for thanksgiving was held on September 18 at Milford Methodist Church with donations going to the Red Cross.