ELIZABETH Stones loves people and cares about the environment and those two things have been major influences in her life.

She is 78 now, a remarkable woman whose positive approach has helped her become involved in several areas of local life and raise thousands of pounds for charity.

Try to praise her, though, and she is quick to dismiss it; such behaviour is normal to her.

“I’ve always had very supportive people around me and I suppose I try to be the same for others” is the most she would admit.

Elizabeth was born in Bolton and lived most of her early life in the Smithills area.

Her mother volunteered at the Royal Bolton Hospital and so was an early and influential role model.

Elizabeth went to Church Road Primary School and then Wolfenden Street School.

“I wanted to be a teacher but I was told I had to be very clever for that and I didn’t think I was,” she explained. Time would prove otherwise.

She left school at 15 and started working for Dobson and Barlow as a trainee shorthand typist.

She attended night school and the commercial skills she learned not only helped her job but also proved to be the key to her eventual teaching career.

After three years, she moved to construction company William Townson where she met her future husband, Albert, an assistant buyer.

They married when she was 22, had four children and a happy 53-year marriage until his death two years ago.

Elizabeth had developed a taste for learning so she decided to continue her commercial studies and, after leaving Townson’s for another local company, she took a teaching qualification.

She was offered part-time teaching work at Turton Adult Education Centre and then at Bolton Technical College where she taught for seven years.

Further education jobs in Horwich, Worsley and Salford followed before she upgraded her teaching qualifications and joined the staff of St Mary’s Catholic High School in Astley, where she worked for 22 years before retiring.

By then, Elizabeth had become a big fan of walking.

“I first got into it because I was feeling a bit down and putting on my backpack and going out walking for the day seemed to cure that,” she recalled.

She joined the Ramblers Association in 1994 and has been a regular walker ever since.

She had always tried to support local charities so, when she heard about a trek to the Great Wall of China for the Children’s Hospital Trust (CHAT), she signed up.

With £5,000 of sponsorship already gathered, Elizabeth had a bad fall which put taking part in doubt but, buoyed up by painkillers and her usual steely resolve, she completed the trek.

This was promptly followed by another along the Inca Trail in Peru later the same year for CHAT.

Over the next 10 years, Elizabeth trekked Africa’s Atlas Mountains, the Grand Canyon, volcanoes in Italy and Sicily, Mount Kilimanjaro, the Sahara Desert, the Indian Himalayas and the Jordan Desert.

The result was many thousands of pounds for charity — including MedEquip4Kids which nominated her to carry the Olympic torch in 2012 — and fascinating experiences that Elizabeth still uses in talks to raise further funds for charities.

She has always supported her church, St Andrew’s and St George’s URC Church, and various charities including the Turton Ladies’ Guild of the RNLI where she is vice-president.

She is also an active member of the Friends of Longsight Park in Harwood.

“I really care about the environment and believe we should all do what we can to help keep it healthy,” she added.

“It’s just something we need to do for our town.”