The selfless work of volunteers has been recognised as part of a special event held at Leeds Civic Hall on 27 May.
Departing Lord Mayor Thomas Murray
Hosted by the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Thomas Murray, this event was an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the dedication and amazing contribution that volunteers make to the City of Leeds and to the lives of many of its most vulnerable citizens.
The value of volunteering
Natasha Mort, from Volunteer Centre Leeds, explained to the 220 volunteers present that not only is their volunteering making a tremendous difference in communities, but that the economic value of volunteering to Leeds each year is about £38.5 million. Natasha reflected on the wide range of activities that people are involved in and the diversity of volunteers themselves and how that was reflected in the room, with representation from most parts of the city - so many different communities, ages, interests and organisations.
The volunteers' experience
Six volunteers shared their motivation and experience as volunteers. The youngest speaker was 18-year old Rebecca Goff who has been encouraging younger children’s interest in books with the Libraries Service since she was 14. At the other end of the age range Trude Silman, in her mid 80s, has been volunteering for most of her life. Trude explained that her commitment to ‘put something back and do something for others’ was shaped by her experience as a nine year old refugee of Nazi Germany, overwhelmed by the kindness of the many families who took her in (you can read Trude's full speech here).
Others who shared their story included: Sam Leigh of the Nigerian Community Association Leeds, Charlotte Bone of the Department of Health, Amrit Choda of the Ahead Partnership and Marvina Babs-Apata of Angel of Youth. Over 30 of the attendees on the evening were new to volunteering and as they were invited to stand up they received warm applause and cheers of encouragement from the rest of the hall.
One of the highlights of the night was when seven long-standing volunteers with 30 years of service - Rosalind Bickler, Pat Brown, Paul Box, Trude Silman, Marian Padbury, Malcolm Padbury and Breege Walsh - were acknowledged and presented with certificates and thanked for their service by the Lord Mayor. The Lord Mayor acknowledged others who had also dedicated so much of their life and time to volunteering.
Sukbir Kaur, a young poet involved with the Angel Of Youth project, brought the event to a close with a performance piece about Volunteering and Giving.
The Lord Mayor closed the celebration with the following comments:
The contribution that these people make to the City is priceless. They are absolute diamonds. Volunteers are very much the unsung heroes of our city, who in seeking no reward or fame make an outstanding commitment to helping others.
It was brilliant therefore that in a small way, we were able to celebrate and thank many of our volunteers for their hard work as part of this event at Leeds Civic Hall. It was an absolute honour for me to also meet seven long-standing volunteers and show our gratitude for their 30 years of service. Some of their personal stories were amazing, and they continue to be fantastic role models for a new generation of people starting out in volunteering work.
Recognition of volunteers and their hard work forms part of National Volunteer week held this year from 1-7 June.