Three cheers for volunteers!
Well, the great Heritage Open Days spectacular is over and done for another year. Thousands of people gave up their time and energy to host the events. It wouldn’t happen without them and now the show has ended, it is time they stood up and took a bow!
A year on from the Olympic boost it’s great to see how the volunteering spirit is still thriving. In the central office we had help from two brilliant volunteers to get through all the registrations and answer queries (stand up please Alan Simpson and Livi Shaw). And whilst we did this, across the country your local church warden, council officer, or even your neighbour planned and prepared for the events you attended.
This year I went to Kingston upon Thames for the weekend. The town has built up a very strong programme of events over the years, but last year the local coordinator retired. Coordinators are our lynchpins in the local community, galvanising people into action; so we were not just sad to see Jennifer Butterworth go but also a little nervous….what would happen to the Kingston programme?
Happily though Jennifer handed over the reins to a trio of very capable people who have been a delight to work with over the past year and to see them develop the event further. Visiting on Saturday was the cherry on top for me, to see visitors engaged with their local heritage and meet volunteers whose warmth and passion for their town really lit up a somewhat grey day!
In contrast Nottingham also lost its coordinator this year, but unfortunately there was no-one to hand over the baton too. In consequence the city saw a slight dip in participation this year. However, there is light on the horizon as we may have a new volunteer in the wings ready to bring the city together again….fingers crossed!
Nottingham and Kingston are examples of how important those individual volunteers are. A whole programme of events can be at risk when that one key person steps down. Kingston now has a team of people shepherding the event and this is often the most sustainable way to manage things. The Mole Valley district in Surrey lost a key volunteer last year, and whilst we miss her hugely the steering group there has such solid support they were able to fill the gap. And from the feedback we have seen so far 2013 seems to have been another triumph for the district!
Time to raise a cheer
So to all our volunteers out there, old and new, a huge THANK YOU; I am so proud to be able to work with you. Here’s to you...
All together now, let’s raise a cheer, in fact three cheers for the amazing volunteers….hip hip hooray!...