Volunteers make a difference

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Thank you to Stephen Lloyd for writing about the importance of volunteers in Eastbourne.

Volunteering – Making a Difference Across Eastbourne:
Stephen Lloyd, 27 December 2016, Facebook feed

I was recently asked to pen a column for a new local volunteering initiative which is to be launched in 2017 (hat tip here to Helen Burton who will be telling all soon) and it set me thinking of my own volunteering observations over just the last couple of weeks in Eastbourne.

Have you noticed for instance the Win a Car comp which runs in the Arndale Centre for 24 days up to Christmas Eve? Well, every day a different charity runs their own stall selling the tickets which of course means that every day each charity needs to provide enough volunteers – two people at a time – for around 8hrs. That’s a lot of people!!

Then there’s bag-packing. I’m sure you have seen that most of the supermarkets (special mention here of ESK and their owner Bob Beevis who is always tremendously supportive) allow charities to collect for their cause whilst helping the customers pack their bags. Just imagine how many volunteers that takes? x supermarket aisle = y volunteers……

Or staff at work who put on a special event in their own time and cost for others, such as the team who did a fantastic Xmas dinner last week for youngsters from foster care. Or all the other Christmas party’s that went on across our town – from Embrace (for disabled children) to Purple Hearts (for children with epilepsy) and all points in-between, of the many, many other volunteer organisations who put on something extra for Christmas.

Even in politics, over the last two weeks alone one young lass on hols from university came to help in the office (thank you Ellen) and another, a local teacher, just knocked on our door to ask what could he do to help me become the town’s MP again (thank you Chris) – both out of the blue, stepping up as volunteers. And not forgetting on Christmas Day itself; the fabulous lunch put on at Our Lady of Ransome for a hundred people or so who are home-alone. This takes dozens of volunteers; to prepare and cook the food, to pick up and drop off the guests, to serve them and to provide entertainment. Every year – a fine Eastbourne tradition.

Which of course brings me to one of our greatest Xmas traditions locally and that’s at the Bandstand, where I was this year on Christmas Day. They’re must have been well over a thousand people enjoying our brilliant Silver Band. All the musicians are of course – volunteers!

Two local charity’s, St Wilfred’s and the Eastbourne branch of Cancer Research Trust (thank you Janet and Lee) were manning the collection buckets for their causes. I was helping the latter along with another youngster who had contacted me to say she would like to do some volunteering (here’s to you Lydia) and it was enormous fun. Hard work but fun.

The mood was lovely, many stopped for a quick chat, the band were in fine fettle, the sun was out and people were their usual generous selves. The other ten or so volunteer bucket collectors, I am sure, had an equally enjoyable couple of hours.

Of course, my examples are just a tiny proportion of the many thousands of people who volunteer across Eastbourne (and beyond) every week of every month of every year. But if I listed them all my FB post would surpass by a factor of ten even my posts – which I’m aware are a tad on the long side…..sorry folks!!

So this message is by way of me thanking you for what you do for our town.

I am in awe of the number of people in Eastbourne who give up so much of their time freely for others so often. Thank you all. Truly.

Have a good day folks, as ever……

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