The boss of Keighley Furniture Project is retiring after more than three decades with the town’s voluntary sector.

Ann Sheriff has been involved with the heavily-used Furniture Project – first as a volunteer, then a paid worker – since it began in 1979.

She has helped thousands of families on low incomes get secondhand furniture which has been donated by local people.

Volunteers and staff members from many local groups gathered this month to say their goodbyes to Ann.

Ann began helping at Keighley Council for Voluntary Services (CVS) in the late 1970s because she had some spare time.

Ann worked in the office initially for half a day each week but gradually became a full-time volunteer receptionist.

She helped Joan Sherlock, then the CVS volunteer co-ordinator, set up Keighley Furniture Store to meet demand from needy local people.

Ann eventually took over the running of the store – still as a volunteer – and for the past two decades has been its manager.

Over the years the store – now the Furniture Project – has expanded into recycling, refurbishing electrical equipment and providing training in carpentry and catering.

The project owns Springfield Mills on Oakworth Road, which also provides a home for several other voluntary organisations.

Ann said she was bound to miss her colleagues in Springfield Mills and across the voluntary sector, but she admitted she was ready for retirement.

She said: “I’m going to take things as they come and spend more time with the grandchildren. My husband Colin and I like travelling on the continent.”

She said she was proud of the project’s achievements over the years, which she said had been the result of a lot of people helping.

Furniture Project chairman Isobel Scarborough said Ann had been “absolutely essential” to the success of the project, particularly striking the deal to buy Springfield Mills.

She said: “Ann’s personality is phenomenal. She’s all things to all people. Her importance to the management of this place is unbelievable.”