WHEN I arrive for our 10am interview, Sheena Glass, who has just celebrated her 78th birthday, has been at her desk for more than three hours.

She likes to be in smart in the morning, to answer elderly callers who are "always up early" and today there was one at 7am, who called to apologise for missing an event.

It's her favourite part of the job as Chief Executive of Glasgow Old People's Welfare Association, which has been providing meals, day trips, advice and companionship for pensioners for more more than 70 years.

Sheena, who was made an MBE four years ago for her charity work, recalls getting a phone call at 3am from an 84-year-old woman who had buried a daughter and learned in the same week that her had cancer.

She says: "She just sobbed and sobbed on the phone.

"My husband Billy said, 'On you go'. I just had my arms around her. I'll never forget that lady.

"But there was a turning point for me. You have to accept death because if you don't accept it you don't accept anything.

"I was glad that she had phoned me and hadn't phoned the other daughter who had just been told that. She only had about six weeks to live. It was so sad."

However, the lifeline calls she provides are about to come to and end on July 31 when Sheena will retire after 38 years working for the charity after a few failed attempts, starting at 65.

"Every three years, each chairman would say, will you stay for my three years and it just;s gone on." she laughs.

"I'm looking forward to it now. At first it was quite difficult and they haven't got anyone to replace my yet but I think they thought I would change my mind."

Sheena, who was born in Springboig, but now lives in Old Kilpatrick, went for a job as a clerical assistant with the charity, based in Sandyford Place, 37 years ago when her sons were at school.

She says: "I'd never heard of the charity but it had been going for about 33 years.

"At that time, Fred Paton, was in charge. He was a lovely man.

"I got the job, part-time. Fred Paton left and another man called Jock became the director. He allowed us to bring our kids in in the Summer holidays. Things that mattered to young mothers.

"I was doing a lot of the work with Jock and he realised I was keen to work. I was given this job.

"I've always loved people. I've been lucky. It's very easy to work with old people. They appreciate the littlest thing you do.

"My mother would never go to a day centre. However, she did go and it was such a turning point.

"It gave my sister something too.

"I think we probably do a lot more for them now simply because they are living so much longer. It was 65-year-olds who were coming to us when I started. Now it's 90 and most of them are in their own homes.

"The biggest problem for families now, is a lot of them are overseas. It was good when they were building all the new houses but they were separating people too.

"We are seeing a lot more of dementia now. People didn't use to talk about it. It's a struggle for carers. Our officers go out to help the carers.

"If we can take their mother, father, aunt, uncle or neighbour, it gives the carer a day off.

"We struggle very much for funds. A lot of the grant making trusts, I used to go out to speak to them and we would have a cheque the next week. But not now.

"The charities are all feeling it. The council are very good to us."

Sheena's answers are peppered with warm anecdotes and laughter. She laughs a lot, despite enduring personal tragedy with the loss of a son and a grandchild in the space of two years.

Her son, Jeremy, collapsed and died at the age of 37 just over a year after the death of his son, Jack, a twin, who died at age of three due to complications after having transplant surgery as a baby

She said: "About 16 months after Jack died, Jeremy went to buy something for his twin, Georgia and just collapsed.

"They say you can't die of a broken heart but I think you can.

"He just thought his wee boy would survive.

"They said he wouldn't walk, he wouldn't talk, he wouldn't go to nursery and he did all three.

"But after the transplant, his resistance was low and he went to nursery and there was chicken pox.

"It was inevitable. Georgia is now 20, July 7, the same date as me."

Her other sons, Geoffrey, 55, is an orthodontist in Milngavie and Justin, 45,works as a welfare adviser with the charity, which provides daily meals and activities at three day centres in Glasgow including the Fred Paton centre in the Woodlands area.

One of her most memorable moments was taking her family to Buckingham Palace to collect an MBE from the Queen for services to the community.

Her retirement goal is to travel to the most northern reaches of Scotland with her "house husband" Billy, 74, who has battled cancer and a heart condition. Meanwhile, there is a leaving bash to prepare for is certain to be emotional for Sheena.

She says: "I love them all. I'll miss them. I'll miss them more than they miss me. I'm proud that I've made so many friends. I feel that they like me and that's important to me."