PEGGY Maskery is among the army of volunteers at a Wirral charity helping those less fortunate – and a true inspiration.

She arrived on the doorstep at Charles Thompson's Mission in Birkenhead, aged just eight, with mum Dolly Monaghan in 1928.

She started volunteering there at the age of 16 and for the last 80 years has served thousands of meals to the area's needy.

Now a sprightly 96, she has no plans to retire.

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Mission manager Bernie Frost with Peggy Maskery in front of plaque honouring the founder's daughter, Annie Thompson MBE, in the small hall

She is one of 30 amazing people helping out at the charity in Hemingford Street on a daily basis. She met late husband Teddy, a fellow volunteer, there.

Looking back, Birkenhead-born Peggy - the only survivor of five children - told the Globe: "I absolutely love it here, helping those who need it.

"I've seen a lot of changes; some good, some bad, and it’s very much a home-from-home for me."

For most of us, a hot meal and warm place to sleep are among the luxuries we take very much for granted – but it is not the same for others.

As hard times continue to hit those most vulnerable, many Wirral people will struggle to make ends meet and while many of us prepare to tuck into a delicious feast, unwrap our presents and spend time with our loved ones on Christmas Day, so many will be forced to sleep rough.

And that's were Peggy comes in.

Her many roles at the mission include making up the parcels of food for those who need it andhanding out meals to the daily visi

She continued: "It's great being part of a team that helps to make at least some difference to people's lives."

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Volunteers Dave Simpson, Dave Hinley, Bernard Ward, Liam Mongey, Peggy Maskery, Mark Hodgkinson and mission manager Bernie Frost with food and a mountain of clothes that have been donated by the public

The mission (pictured, below) has been a lifeline for more than 120 years.

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It opens its doors to more than 70 people five days a week, offering them hot meals and a chance to escape the poverty they have become so accustomed to.

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The mission's founder Charles Thompson died in 1903, but his goals lived on through daughter Annie. She was awarded the MBE in 1953 for services to the people of Birkenhead.

She was the charity's Lady Superintendent for 60 years and somebody Peggy remembers well.

Peggy was one of 500 'Miss Thompson Girls' – a group of youngsters who went on camping trips.

Paying tribute, she recalled: "Annie was a lovely lady who made a big impression on me. She taught me right from wrong when I was little."

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The mission is now run by Bernie Frost, who first got involved 12 years ago as a volunteer and has been manager for five years.

Providing food, furniture, clothes, healthcare, counselling services and even toys for the borough's poorest children, Bernie is proud to be a part of something so vital for many living below the breadline.

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Bernie Frost

He said: "People like Peggy are testament to how important our volunteers are. They play a huge role in our work, we are dependent on each other.

“I also want to thank the public for its continued support."

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Peter Doyle been a visitor to the mission for 10 years

Peggy was a full-time waitress until retiring at 70. When her daily shift was over, she would spend spare time helping out at the mission.

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Volunteer Chris Liston servers up breakfast at the mission

Among those using its services is Geoff Evans, 48, who got into difficulty after being made redundant and is a regular at the mission.

Praising Peggy, he told the Globe: "I know people in their mid-20s to 30s who couldn't do half of what she does.

"She's definitely been sent from up above."

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Jon Wok, 53, has been visiting the Mission since the age of five and Jane Edwards, 49, for 41 years

Lee Williams, 28, was among those using its services before becoming a volunteer.

Originally from Liverpool, he moved to Wirral and from between the ages of 18 to 20, spent life on the streets. He now lives in Seacombe.

He said: "I volunteer here because it's my way of giving something back. Without Bernie, I don't think I'd be here now.

"Bernie is the heart and soul of the place."

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Peter Doyle shares a joke with fellow mission visitor

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Bernie and Peggy (centre) with Donna Birks and volunteer Lee Williams

Donna Birks, 40, has been using the mission for 10 years. The mother-of-four said: They've really helped me through some tough times."

Also among the daily visitors is Peter Mickle, 57, who was in the Merchant Navy and spent two years on the QEII.

He fell on hard times and has been a regular at the mission for 15 years.

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Bernie Frost (centre), with Donna Birks and Peter Mickle

He told the Globe: "I heard about the mission through my cousin, who used to come here.

"Bernie and his staff work really hard and do a great job."

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Bernie Frost, mission manager, with Gaynor Evans and Rob Watson, Mission Director with some the donated gifts

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Among the donations that are made to the mission on a daily basis 

Opening its doors yet again on Christmas Day, the Mission will put on a special festive dinner, complete with all the trimmings and through its Toy Bank scheme.

It will ensure that as many children as possible have something to open on Christmas Day.

Anyone who would like to get involved or find out more about the Mission and its work, can visit