The Harrogate & Ripon CVS volunteering column with Karen Weaver

Organisation of the Year Oscar winners Autism Angels. NADV 1811021AM37
Organisation of the Year Oscar winners Autism Angels. NADV 1811021AM37

The 2018 Harrogate District Volunteering Oscars were featured across several pages of last week’s paper, and gave a flavour of the wonderful celebration of kindness that John Fox has masterminded for the last eleven years. Harrogate & Ripon CVS is honoured to have been a partner in the awards from the start.

Our small team helps out in all sorts of practical ways before and on the day, from supporting the judging panel to transporting 7 foot high polystyrene Oscar statues and setting up for the event.

The Volunteering Oscars illustrates what can be achieved when someone has the vision, energy and networks to pull together tremendous support from a wide range of people and companies, including David Ritson and his team from the Old Swan Hotel, Sue and Ann from Harrogate Borough Council, Harrogate Convention Centre and Orb Community Enterprise.

The 16 award categories are all generously supported by sponsors, which this year included Covance, Banks Property, Harrogate Town AFC, Stray FM, Colour It In, the Majestic Hotel, CNG, Jelf, Harrogate Christmas Market and Pedal Power Golden Ale. PPR Properties also sponsored an award and deserve a special mention for running a very successful raffle on the night, which raised over £500 for THE LOCAL FUND, which in turn supports local charities and voluntary organisations.

There are many people involved in making the Volunteer Oscars happen, and of course huge thanks must go to John Fox for pulling the whole event together.

However, on the night it is the volunteers themselves who are the stars of the show.

These are the people who give their own time to make things better for all of us – looking after sports facilities and gardens, running activities for young and old or with special needs, taking people to health appointments, providing a safe and welcoming home for those at risk of homelessness, running the food bank, raising huge amounts of cash and giving a lifetime of quiet service to good causes.

The Volunteer Oscars illustrate that people are sociable and benefit hugely from being part of something positive which brings them into contact with others. Volunteering provides that opportunity, whether it is giving something back in retirement or gaining skills and experiences as a young person to build confidence and help decide on a future career. When people become actively involved as volunteers they are helping to make our district a better, kinder place to live and they play their part in countering the armchair critics and cynics whose voices are over-amplified by social media and whose negativity and mistrust can be so disheartening.

Nowhere is this better illustrated right now than in Ripon, where people from across the city have come together to mark the centenary of the Armistice in 1918.

The community response has been inspiring and remarkable, reflecting the city’s strong military connections and remembering all those who have served in the armed forces. Once again the vision and leadership of one or two individuals, supported by a wide range of people and organisations, has enabled something truly wonderful to happen.

It was most fitting that at the Volunteering Oscars Hazel Barker collected a special award on behalf of herself, Stuart Martin and everyone involved the wonderful Ripon Community Poppy Project.

300 local volunteering opportunities can be viewed on www.harcvs.org.uk