Maureen Clarke

East of England, Capel St Mary Methodist Church


Tireless Mo battles blindness to help others

Mo Clarke may be blind, and nearing her ninetieth birthday, but that hasn’t stopped her volunteering as the driving force behind The Beacon – a popular community café run by Capel St Mary Methodist Church in Suffolk.
Mo came up with the idea for the café sixteen years ago when she felt God telling her to serve her community.
It started with a borrowed coffee machine and three customers, and now some fourteen volunteers – Mo among them – serve over forty regulars every Tuesday.
Her advancing years and macular degeneration mean she can’t take as active a role as she once did – ‘I can pour tea,’ she laughed, ‘but it doesn’t go in the cup!’ – but Mo is there to muck in, wind, rain or shine.
‘If the Lord wakes me in the morning there’s a job to do,’ she said. ‘And it’s humbling to see what a small group of people giving up their time can do. One elderly lady with terminal cancer told us, “You’re the reason I get up in the morning.” We have mums with children, workmen, villagers, PCSOs – it’s a place for all ages.’
At eighty-seven, Mo is still a big part of the church’s volunteer ‘Open The Book’ group, and only stopped taking an active role in youth work when she turned eighty.
Steward Emma Bowyer, who nominated Mo, said, ‘She heard God calling her to step out in faith, and age and blindness will not stand in her way.’
‘I was speechless to be nominated,’ said Mo, ‘and, believe me, that’s almost unheard of! It’s humbling – it’s a privilege to serve God and my community through The Beacon. We’re there to share people’s joy and sorrow, and to listen in a safe space. The award is for the whole team and for God, not me.’