How did you hear about WHY?
I’ve got to think about this…it sort of evolved. I didn’t appreciate that there was a coffee morning initially down there, and I met a couple of friends who told me about it, so I went down one morning, met everybody, thoroughly enjoyed it and sort of got dragged in then, doing a bit of this and a bit of that, so it goes on. I find it very helpful, I find talking to other people not only helps me, it helps them as well.
Tell us about all your volunteering roles
My friend Janet used to work for Happy Landings and her lovely husband Don, before he died a couple of years back. When she left, we all missed doing the voluntary work: collecting stuff, looking after the animals and what have you, so we started our own called Animals in Rescue, so I help volunteering for that, not as much as I used to because it’s all at Shepton Mallet unfortunately, but we’ve still got the same girls and we still do what we can.
Obviously. being ex-Navy, I belong to Frome Royal Naval Association, I’m the Welfare Officer, which keeps me going, like being back in the job again really. I belong to the Frome Horticultural Society, I’ve been at the Frome Memorial Theatre for 31 years as a volunteer. Used to be very involved in that – many many years ago I was front of house and ran all that, but as it’s grown we’ve got more and more people and trustees and it’s a real big business thing now, albeit all run by volunteers, but again because of the problem I’ve had, I’ve had to slow down and step back a bit, so I don’t do quite as much there as I used to. I also play bowls at Clarrie Dunbar (love it)
What else do I do? I’m now a volunteer for We Hear You, amongst other things. I wasn’t aware that it was in Frome. I’d seen the brochures but never really looked into it. I suppose. I’d had no reason to, and then of course you get cancer and you start looking at all your options.
I suppose it’s how you’re brought up, if you can help people then you do. I’d rather do a good turn than a bad.
I have been volunteering for WHY for about 11 years now. I found myself without a job and had heard of PAC (as it was originally known), so contacted them to see if they needed volunteers. They certainly did, and I found myself standing behind tables well-placed in various places around Frome backed by large and colourful WHY banners and acting as an ambassadress for WHY.
I first met Jill Miller, the founder of PAC/WHY about 30 years ago when she was the inspiring teacher of a creative writing class. The council had provided a free creche for my three young children and I was able to learn a great deal from her. I went to her funeral about a year ago and was inspired to hear the story of how she had set up PAC after her diagnosis of cancer. I saw and met some of Frome's great and good at the funeral, who had all come to give homage to the brave, talented and inspiring Jill Miller.
I have carried buckets of drinking water up a slippery garden slope to keep the teapot full for a beautiful Frome garden charity tea-party, buttered hundreds of scones as the demand for food racked up, cut and sold delicious slices of homemade cakes, chatted to many friendly and interested strangers about WHY, filled in gaps in the ever-rolling supply lines of afternoon tea. I have dressed up (I would like more chances to do this) as a Christmas elf and hailed passers-by to come and partake of the WHY Christmas grotto, joined the Christmas present wrapping team and we produced endless presents for Father Christmas to hand out to small children in his grotto. Father Christmas was well-disguised but wearing his own beard, which he had grown to an appropriate length over the year, but bought his costume from eBay just in time to make his appearances.
I had said to husband:- “WHY are looking for a Father Christmas. I didn’t volunteer you but how would you feel if I volunteered you for this responsible position?” His version of the story afterwards was that I had volunteered him for the position without asking him. He is known in Frome choirs for having a carrying bass voice, and as the Great FC, he used this to great advantage with his 'HO HO HOS'!!!. The queue to see the jolly FC sitting on a wonderful, home-crafted throne, wound twice around the Westway Square in Frome and then headed out to the carpark. That was a hugely enjoyable day for everyone involved. I have made friends and remember many happy and busy times with the other many WHY volunteers.
As a thank you to the volunteers, the WHY staff have put on Christmas dinner evenings and taken us to volunteer tea-parties at Babington House. The fun and shared purpose of raising money for WHY has been wonderful and rewarding.
How did you hear about We Hear You and why did you decide to support us?
I spotted a WHY stand at an event, and a Facebook posting. I looked into what WHY is and immediately decided that I wanted to be a part of a vital service to all. Through my little music group we have embraced World Book day, dressed up and all group fees went to WHY, a Teddy’s Bears Picnic and many coffee mornings.
It was easy communicating with WHY, they offered ideas and support for each event. I found using their social media links helpful to share etc. I can’t remember how much money we raised in total for all the events I’ve supported over the years, but I do recall one of our coffee mornings hitting around £90!
What would you say to someone who was thinking of fundraising for WHY?
Go ahead, have a go.. every little helps and it all makes a big difference.