Harrogate volunteer shortlisted for award after 80 years of charity work

NADV 1403116AM John Shannon. Picture : Adrian Murray. (1403116AM)
NADV 1403116AM John Shannon. Picture : Adrian Murray. (1403116AM)

A 97-year-old man who has been volunteering since he was 17 is now being recognised for 80 years of service to the community.

John Shannon began volunteering at the League of Nations Union Society in Essex. Now, 80 years later, he has been shortlisted to become Britain’s best volunteer.

John said: “I have done a certain amount of volunteering all through my life.

“I come from a family that did quite a lot of that sort of thing, and my school and college were very socially concious.

“It is just an ordinary part of life. There are lots of people who do a lot more than I do.”

John was nominated by the Harrogate Easier Living Project - the most recent charity he has worked with.

Taking part in the Carers’ Time Off scheme carried out by this organisation, John visits vulnerable people to give those who care for them some time to have a hobby, go shopping, or visit friends.

This project, along with the many others John has taken part in throughout his voluntary career, provide a crucial service, and this is something John recognises keenly.

“You have only got to look at society to realise the importance of voluntary projects. There are so many people in their homes who need help,” he said.

“If only half of the population gave a couple of hours a week it would transform the lives of people who live by themselves.

“But you mustn’t get the idea that I am some great person who does great work, because it is nothing like that.

“I was brought up in that sort of way, that one did a little bit.”

John was recently awarded the Royal Voluntary Service Diamond Champions Award, presented to him by HRH the Duchess of Cornwall.

Now, after 780 nominations were received, he is one of only five volunteers shortlisted to be Britain’s Best Volunteer.

As a finalist he is guaranteed to win an iPad and £250 for his chosen charity. But if he achieves the title he will receive £1,000 of holiday vouchers and £1,250 for his charity, which he says would be Carers’ Time Off.

Yet for John the prizes and awards are not nearly as important as the act of volunteering itself.

“If you are that sort of person you carry it with you wherever you go, and if you’re not you don’t,” he said.

“My own wife was in bed for three years and I had help from people, so I want to repay some of that.”

To vote for John, go to www.markeluk.com/britains-best-volunteer/finalists.aspx.