Karen Weaver column: Appreciating volunteers

Volunteers Rod Macauley, second left, and Pat Jones, second right, received their certificates from the Mayor of Harrogate Coun Anne Jones.
Volunteers Rod Macauley, second left, and Pat Jones, second right, received their certificates from the Mayor of Harrogate Coun Anne Jones.

As the NHS celebrates its 70th anniversary in 2018, it was great to read the article in last week’s paper featuring just some of the hundreds of local volunteers who support the NHS in our area.

Through their excellent volunteering programme Harrogate District NHS Foundation Trust manages more than 600 volunteers ranging from 16-years-old to 93. At the younger end teenagers can gain excellent experience in a health and care environment that will set them off on their careers and be inspired to adopt a lifetime habit of volunteering. At the older end the volunteers featured in the article spoke of being able to continue to use their skills and expertise in retirement. They clearly value the importance of the social interaction that volunteering offers and the chance to make a difference in countless small ways supporting patients.

In my role here at HARCVS (Harrogate and Ripon Centres for Voluntary Service) this is something I hear all the time, most recently at our own annual celebration to thank our volunteers. This is always a lovely occasion and without fail our volunteers are so modest and humble about the difference they make. They insist they don’t need thanking and often comment on how much they enjoy volunteering. Rod Macauley, one of our dedicated volunteer car drivers, spoke of his experience. He said: “They’re only in the car two minutes and you know their life story. I feel I’ve actually got more back than I’ve put in. I’ve met some wonderful people, some needy people and if we can help at all to make their life a little bit easier then I go home feeling pretty good.”

We were delighted to welcome Harrogate District Mayor, Coun Anne Jones, to Harrogate Community House to present certificates and she thanked everyone present and acknowledged the hard work and commitment of all our precious volunteers. She later posted on Twitter: “Our communities cannot manage without them and our society would be all the poorer for not having them.”

Volunteering can take many different forms. At the same event we also took the opportunity to thank one of our trustees, Coun Pat Jones. Pat has served eight years with us as the Harrogate Borough Council representative on our board. Like all trustees she has been one of those unsung heroes behind the scenes, helping to guide our organisation and ensure we are always focussed on our charitable purpose. Pat is also an ex-Mayor. So she is a member of that unique band of people who, during the course of their year in office, gain a deep understanding of the difference volunteers make across the Harrogate district in so many ways. It has been fabulous to have Pat as a trustee bringing this perspective to our board. Both “Mrs Jones” have stepped down after 16 years as dedicated local councillors this time, but I’m sure they’ll continue to be involved supporting our communities in many different ways in the future, including as volunteers.

If you’d like to join the 11.9 million people in the UK who volunteer at least once a month, have a look at our online volunteering directory of local opportunities via www.harcvs.org.uk. In the run up to national Volunteers Week, June 1 to 7, We’ll be highlighting some of the many roles on offer. We hope to inspire everyone to make a positive difference in our community. There will also be details of the 11th Harrogate District Volunteering Oscars on Friday, November 2. Follow 
@harcvs on Twitter for the latest updates.