In 2010 she was awarded an MBE for her 31 years’ work as a youth worker, and her devotion to young people. In typical style, she invited a mother and daughter who she worked with on the Sheffield estate to Buckingham Palace to share the experience.
After taking early retirement, Donna supported a young woman who had been trafficked into the UK. Donna talks of how the young woman was mentally scarred and deeply traumatised by her experiences. The girl had been brought to London and promised work as a waitress, but it never panned out like that. She escaped by cutting her arm so deeply that her screams alerted neighbours and the police were called. The girl is now working to rebuild her life with Donna’s help.
In her spare time, Donna is a spoken word poet and artist, and has recently been accepted to join the Ryde Art Collective. She is now enjoying a more peaceful existence on the Island but she is keen to continue supporting young people. After a year of performing at Dimbola Lodge, Quay Arts and on the open mic circuit, Donna says the highlight was performing her poetry at Bestival’s amphitheatre. Her artwork is vibrant and innovative and she has donated pieces to Quarr Abbey, Dimbola Lodge, the MS Society and Friends of the Animals charity.
“I wanted to collaborate with one charity and the Ellen MacArthur Trust, based in East Cowes, was the obvious option,” she said. “The charity supports young people with life limiting illnesses, allowing them to try sailing, often for the first time. The teamwork and close proximity with other young people gives them the chance to talk freely and acts as a form of therapy in a fun and exciting environment.”
Throughout 2014, monies raised from the sale of Donna’s paintings and her fundraising events will go to the charity. Her flower paintings are already on sale in a Ventnor florists, and one Island estate agents will also be displaying her paintings in their seven offices across the Island.
All her works are original pieces in acrylics in signature azure blues, vibrant yellow and orange. There will be an exhibition and sale of paintings in Readers Interiors, Newport in early March for the charity.
Donna has two poetry books already in publication, ‘Blue Devils’ and ‘The Thick and Thin of it’. She hopes to publish a third book later ths year where we can read her observational poetry with titles like ‘Ryde Carnival’ and ‘Seaview Sally’. She said: “I have had a fantastic response to my artwork and poetry here and I have written some new poems about the Island and the diverse people I’ve met. I love the blues of the Solent; it’s a bit different to the Blackpool brown of my childhood!”