Ray’s story: I get a buzz out of seeing people smile

“I really believe if you’re doing volunteer work, then the work itself should be the reward not the recognition. It is that feeling of, “I’m really glad I did that” which is the important thing. There’s just something about it, such a nice feeling.”

My wife and I have been involved in volunteering since 1974 and have been rewarded with that feeling many times.

We first moved to Shepley for the convenience of my work and its lovely location. Through my children talking to other children, it was soon discovered by some parents that I’d been involved organising the Lord Mayor’s Show in Leicester. The local GP approached me one day and asked if I would manage the Shepley Bed Push, which was an event in the village to raise funds for The Kirkwood Hospice. I agreed to chair the committee and did so for several years. During its life the ‘Bed Push’ raised a significant amount of money for our wonderful hospice.

I was approached a decade ago to assist with The Mrs Sunderland Festival which at the time was beginning to look a little tired and losing support. I am no musician, but with my business background I felt that I might be able to contribute to this unique organisation.

Along with other willing and capable volunteers we were able to get a grip of the finances, change the philosophy, begin outreach events with schools, and workshops to aid adult performers. We also expanded into working with children with special educational needs. 

My wife had previously been a volunteer with Age Concern and had the idea of working with older people with the guidance of The Alzheimer’s Society. A ‘proper’ tea dance resulted during which young children would also sing for the older people. Guests sang, danced, (The Lambeth Walk went down particularly well), ate cake and socialised. To see the elderly in deep conversation with the young is heart-warming.

The people from the care homes loved it and the schools were full of thanks. It’s activities like this which allow us to have a bigger impact in the community. It also assisted in growing the reputation of the Mrs Sunderland Festival – there are so many people involved now.

And this is the reward. Sharing ideas, backing each other, creating an atmosphere within which people wish to achieve. That is what I get a buzz out of, seeing people smile – volunteers and participants – and it’s through this that the motivation comes. I get a sense of satisfaction that we’re in a developing organisation that is striving forward.

Find out more

Mrs Sunderland Festival


illustrations from our workshopsThank you to Ray for sharing this story after participating in one of our “How can more people come together to make local places better?” online workshops for Kirklees citizens.

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