2019 Chairman's community awards

Each year, Chairman Sir John Kingman hosts the ‘Community Awards’, recognising the wonderful things that Legal & General staff do for their communities.  We asked Staff to nominate those people that they feel go “above and beyond” in their own time, either by volunteering, fund raising, taking on community projects or simply helping others.  It's really amazing to see what they get up to in their spare time.

Helping Hands

I volunteer for a charity called Sussex Search Dogs as an operational search technician and a trainee search dog handler. I am on call 24/7 365 days a year to help the police in finding high risk and  vulnerable missing people. I am training my own dog to become an operational search dog.

The Team is made up entirely of volunteers who (together with their dogs) undergo constant training and must meet rigorous standards in order to obtain operational status. Most of our dog handlers and support staff fit this in around full time jobs. The charity is very important to me for a number of reasons. It’s a charity very close to my heart because someone close and dear to me suffers from a mental health condition. I also have a close friend whose daughter has had to call on the charity for help.

The charity is an amazing thing and they literally save lives! The time and dedication they show entirely in their own time and self-funded is just second to none. The real heroes are the dogs!

I would hope I would never need to call on the charity for help but knowing they are there, making Sussex a safer place for all of us and our families is something I am immensely proud to be a part of.

I have the honour of hosting a support group in Worthing, West Sussex, for people affected by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

OCD is a very misunderstood condition. So misunderstood I didn’t realise this is what I’d been suffering with my whole life! I stumbled across the OCD-UK website in 2011, desperate to find anyone who understood what I was going through. In 2015, with the support of my friends at the charity, I launched my own support group, eager to provide understanding and encouragement for people suffering in silence, as I had been.

I also volunteer as one of the organisers for our annual conferences, this year we visited Northampton, where I ran workshops discussing the management of OCD at work, and dealing with the ‘collateral damage’ of OCD; taking your life back when mental illness has taken so much of it from you.

Finally this year, I was very proud to join to OCD-UK’s board of trustees, giving my input into the direction of the charity in years to come.

My life is totally different since I’ve become involved with the charity. I could never tell anyone about my illness, and spent hours a day lost in obsessive thoughts and checking rituals. I’ll now talk to anyone about it. I’ve taken part in awareness days, and also recently given a talk to the Hove Mental Health First Aiders.

My proudest achievement with the support group so far, is the young man who came to us having left college due to his OCD, but with the group’s help, was able to go back and complete his A Levels. There’s also nothing better than having someone come along, and say they don’t want to talk, but they just want to listen, and then within minutes of them realising they’re in safe company, seeing the relief on their faces and hearing them open up. For me, my involvement with OCD-UK, and the support group in particular, has given me confidence and purpose I’ve never had before. It also pushes me to do better every day, and fight my disorder.

I volunteer as a debt coach for CAP which is a Christian charity established in 1996 that provides a large network of Debt Centres, Job Clubs, Fresh Start & Life Skills groups across the UK.  They tackle poverty head on, helping thousands of people, completely free of charge.

Since July 2017, I have been working with a team of volunteers from my local church, visiting and supporting individuals and families who are in financial difficulties.

A three visit process is set up starting with an introductory visit to understand their circumstances and see if they are willing to work on a recovery. A fact-find visit clarifies their circumstances and helps to generate a budget plan solution to their debt.

The third visit is used to communicate the financial advice that is being proposed to help them and to determine whether they are willing to proceed with the recommended advice.

CAP empowers me to help individuals in other ways such as offering food bank vouchers and providing emergency food shops for those in crisis.

In early 2017, I work shadowed the debt centre manager and one of the clients we visited was broken, tearful and living in poor quality accommodation with no heating and no funds available to repair their boiler in Winter and his home was about to be repossessed; I thought that it would be great if I could switch to part-time working, train to become a debt-coach and help other people facing similar difficulties. My Christian faith is important to me and volunteering for CAP enables me to provide practical help and a professional service, to communicate my beliefs to those I visit. It is incredibly joyful and rewarding when the process works, a burden of debt is lifted and lives are changed.

I am dedicated to supporting our local community and have been involved in helping our office increase awareness to local charities with volunteer efforts, as well as fund raising. I used to be the chair for the Community Outreach committee at Women Investment Professionals and co-founded Leaders Investing for Tomorrow (LIFT). LIFT is a civic minded, not-for-profit group bringing women and men together to support women and our community with the goal of effecting positive change.

I work with a few area charities such as Deborah’s Place and El Hogar del Nino, and I understand firsthand how important it is to support our community. I think people in these organisations are amazing to dedicate their lives to help people, and I believe if we can all offer some support we can make the organisations stronger.

I Co-founded LIFT with women who share my commitment to our community, I enjoy not only motivating my network, but I also believe it’s important to share how to find organizations that need attention and meets individual interests. I have found being involved in supportive groups is contagious, which helps support positive attitudes to do more.

I am also a member on our Cultural Working Group Business committee, ESG Steering Committee and the 2020 committee chair of the Women’s Collective.

Inspiring Young People

I am the chairman of the Botany Bay Cricket Club colts section, an Enfield based club, which encourages participation in team based sport (specifically cricket) for approximately 70 children aged 7 to 16, including both boys and girls. My ethos is to encourage participation and fun rather than a ‘win at all costs’ mentality. As chairman I am responsible for all aspects of the section covering the administration and the playing side.

As in all youth sport the child welfare is paramount. I have undergone the mandatory child protection, welfare and first aid courses, and have become accomplished in completing the numerous risk assessments! The playing considerations involve managing one of the teams, coaching, organising nets and training, liaising with the league and the general administration. On match days I multi-task as the coach, scorer and umpire!

I perform this role to promote youth team based sport and to ‘give something back’. I was a colt at Botany Bay many years ago and continue to play for the club to this day. My volunteering provides the opportunity to encourage cricket, grow the club and to coach as others did to me long ago. In these days of social media and computer games I think it is vital to encourage participation in team based sports where children learn the benefits of team work, share their successes and learn from their failures. Sport in general is a great mixer for both boys and girls and the club’s membership represents the diverse communities of Enfield.  There is nothing more rewarding that seeing colts develop their skills, build friendships and enjoy their sport.

Firstly, I would like to congratulate all the other nominees and say a massive ‘thank you’ to everyone that dedicates so much of their time to volunteer. I am delighted to have been nominated and shortlisted for the Chairman’s Awards 2020 for my work with England Korfball. Korfball is a sport that is uniquely mixed-gender. It is deliberately designed so that men and women/boys and girls cooperate together as equals, and families and local communities can stay fit and active together.

I started playing when I was 10-years old and through korfball I have experienced a number of new and exciting experiences that I would normally have not been introduced to. I have represented my country as a player, coached young players, and now referee throughout the UK and internationally. Unlike some more traditional sports, korfball receives no central funding from government or Sport England. All our youth and senior squads must cover 100% of their own training, travel and competition costs. When I was playing, I benefited from others generosity.

My love of the sport encourages me to volunteer, so that others can play and experience some of the amazing opportunities that I have been lucky enough to experience. I create and manage the online content on the England Korfball and promote korfball through the website and across social media. This leads into organising many events across the country including major youth championships, student competitions and the national Grand Finals which are now held at the Copper Box Arena in the Olympic Park in London.

I started volunteering after I took my son to a football trial aged 6. The coach at the time didn’t really engage with me or my child and when the games commenced he simply got pushed off the ball and kicked. This wasn’t a very nice experience for him and we walked away disappointed.

As I walked away another man approached me and asked me what I thought. I put my views across and he mentioned that he was involved in Hove park colts and wondered if I’d be interested in setting a team up.

I didn’t even think twice about it, to coach my own boy was an excellent opportunity. Of course I had no experience, but after a couple of meetings, training courses and checks I was all set up. We quickly established a team and acquired two very loyal dads as coaches.

In 2018 the club pushed us to get more girls involved in football and the opportunity then arose for me to coach my daughter, and take on the role of looking after the youngest group, aged 5-7. After work there is simply no better way to get over a tough day than playing football related games with this lot. Yes it can be difficult, but when you get a hand-made card with “number one coach” on it and a chocolate sloth called sally given to you, it makes you feel very special.

I have volunteered for 8 years and recently become the welfare officer for the club. My initial intention was to simply help my boy get involved in football but it has grown to become a lot more. I am now actively involved with over 100 boys and girls to create a safe and fun environment for children to learn football, to grow confidence, to smile, and this is why I do it!

I created Mums United a year and half ago. This is a mum’s-led initiative tackling the rise of youth violence in our area.

Our aim is to LEARN, listen, empower, act, raise awareness and not to give up hope. We have delivered 3 programmes in the local area focused on mothers and youth. We want to raise awareness and empower the youth and mothers to be proactive and to know what is actually happening in our area.

We built resilience and offered conflict management by showing them personal self-defence techniques. We have held a number of community events in the area, bringing all communities together as one.

We hold regular patrols in the area and we work at grass root levels engaging with the youth who are at the cusp of entering the gang culture. I have built up a team of volunteers and have over 30 members who come to our sessions.

I took over as Cub leader in 2016 when my daughter joined and help was needed. Cub Scouts is for young people aged 8 - 101/2 and is the second section in Scouting, after Beavers and before Scouts and Explorers.  Our Scout Troop at Henfield, is recognised at the oldest surviving Scout Troop in the world

Since 2016 the pack has grown from 25 Cubs to now over 60, meaning that we now have two packs that run on Tuesday and Thursday nights, and due to a shortage of leaders I am involved with both packs running a joint programme. Almost everything our Cubs do goes towards badges, and many of our Cubs have achieved the highest award for a Cub – the Chief Scout Silver award. This can only be achieved by the Cub coming each week and taking part in all activities including Camps.

The camps which I organise and run have grown over the last few years, and now we take nearly 50 Cubs to the annual full camp that happens in the Ashdown Forest, when the cubs get to take part in activities such as Abseiling, Climbing, pot holing, zip wires and hikes. We also run another camp near Hove where they learn skills such as fire lighting, shelter building, cooking on fires etc.

 A lot of the activities we do, while fun are also there to build Skills for Life into our Cubs and really a key skill is resilience.  They may struggle on activities but they learn to overcome that, and get better and when they need it help, support and comfort is always there.  We see through teamwork, confidence and community spirit the Cubs grow physically and mentally during the time they are with us, and it truly is an amazing to see the benefits that Cubs bring. 

This year 3 former cubs came back as young leaders, so I decided to help at the young leader sessions and Duke of Edinburgh sessions. This additional work has meant that by the end of 2019, 2 of my young leaders had fully completed the course and were awarded their belts within 11 months and they are now helping to support the Cub group.

Volunteering takes up a lot of my time, but is very rewarding to see the young people grow and the benefit from Cubs, Scouting and DoE is great and I would recommend it to any age. This year I have worked with volunteer leaders aged from 14 to 80.  For our older members this really helps to keep them young, despite being retired for many years they use and pass on their skills. Others of our retired community help the Group by being treasurer and secretary to the group while others are in linked organisations that help with the fundraising goals.

Charity Fundraiser

I fundraise for Cats Protection as one of their many Cat Champions.

In September 2019 I completed the 25k Thames Bridges Trek raising £1,158.

Over the course of three consecutive years my fundraising has reached just over £3,500 and I have walked a total of 60+ miles.

I do these yearly challenges to improve my fitness as I'm still unable to run or do high impact exercises after breaking my ankle in 2015 so walking is the next best thing and I get to raise some much needed money for Cats Protection.

I also volunteer as website editor for Cats Protection Brighton & District branch in their publicity team which is a role I enjoy doing in my own time.

I chose to support Cats Protection as I have always been a cat lover. Myself and my wife Tara are the proud owners of 3 cats (called Missy, Britney and Cherry) and our home would feel empty without them. Volunteering for the Cats Protection means I get to help cats who aren’t as lucky as our own cats and find them new loving homes.

Video is of Shabu Shabu in her fostering pen and she was rehomed by CP Brighton July 2019. https://legalandgeneral-my.sharepoint.com/:v:/r/personal/daniel_merton_landg_com/Documents/shabu-shabu-highres.wmv?csf=1&e=vrF5gf

Sophie Moolman - a very sweet little girl (my wife's goddaughter) was tragically taken from us by Acute Myocarditis at just seven years of age in March 2018.

The Rainbow Room in Rebecca House provides a private, intimate and special place of rest for a child until the day of the funeral. It can be personalised with photographs, pictures, posters, bed linen, favourite toys and music. These precious memories can bring some comfort during this very sad and difficult time. Rebecca House staff work with the family to create keepsakes and provide memory boxes for siblings. The family are able to stay in Rebecca House (the children’s wing of the IoM Hospice) or come and go as they wish, where staff will be able to offer responsive and timely support.

The support that was given to Sophie’s family was instrumental in providing the strength they needed and we want to give something back.

That’s a bit about who inspired me and why I’m doing the challenge; now a bit about the challenge itself!

 The Sophie Rocks 2019 challenge - 367 challenges in one year!

  • Challenge 1 to 365: Run every single day of 2019. At least 5km per day, with no walking and no running on treadmills.
  • Challenge 366: Run 2,620 miles across the year, the equivalent of 100 marathons (with no rest days and whilst working full time away from home….)
  • Challenge 367: No shaving in 2019 (a very long beard…)

It was a year of a tough endeavour, one that tested me like never before. I ran in Scotland, England, Poland (running for Team GB in the World Masters), the United States, Turkey, France, Germany, amongst other countries.

With just three months remaining (Oct, Nov & Dec), I had 919 miles left to run over 92 consecutive days. That was an average of 10 miles per day (having already ran 1,700 miles and 273 days in a row).

But I did it and all the money I raised went to Rebecca House.

Since joining Legal & General fifteen years ago, I have actively participated in and raised money for many charity events – triathlons, Tower 42 vertical rush, rowing down the Thames, cycling from London to Cannes and more.

In July 2019, I took on the gruelling Zurich Ironman, raising £17,250 (including gift aid) for the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Trust. I completed the event in 12 hours and 28 minutes, including a 3.8km swim, a 180km cycle ride and finished with a marathon.

A glutton for punishment perhaps, but a couple of months after this, I embarked on a demanding two-day bike ride with a team from LGIM Real Assets. A group of 74 people from across the real estate sector cycled 330km from Newcastle to Manchester, which included a staggering 4,800m of climbing. The Real Assets team collectively raised £15,500 for children’s charity, Coram.

My 12 year old nephew has Cystic Fibrosis so the Trust is a charity that is close to my heart.  The CF Trust does an amazing job supporting people with CF and their families by undertaking ground breaking research, promoting the highest quality care and fighting for access to life-saving drugs.  This final point has been particularly important as in October 2019, and after years of lobbying, the NHS announced that two life-saving drugs have been made available for many over the age of 12, which is amazing timing for his nephew.  These drugs have proved to be very effective at improving lung functions which is key for people with CF.

To honour my late mother, Karen, I decided to carry out a football tournament in aid of the Brain Tumour charity. Last year’s event was the second successful year and the tournament has now become an annual event.

The Karen Woodhouse memorial tournament is held in my local town of Doncaster at Wheatley Hills Rugby Club. The first year we did this we raised £6,300. In the second year we have raised a massive £9,006. That means we raised over £15,000 for the charity in just 2 years.

I wanted to do this, as being my mother’s only child, I had the horror of having to watch her, go through having a grade 4 brain tumour. Instead of it having a negative impact on my life I wanted to try and make it positive, by doing something to help other people who are going through the same horror.

I have played football all my life, which mum had the joys of watching as I was growing up, so a football tournament was the obvious idea.

In total, around 20 teams entered the tournament. The teams had 9 players per team, £10 per player which raised £1,800. The remainder of the fundraising came on the day from donations, funfairs, cake sales and raffle tickets, which had some amazing prizes such as a hot tub for the day.

It was a huge honour for me to see so many people in my local community come together in honour of my mother. I know she would have been so happy and proud.

Community Champion

I am an Enhanced Community First Responder for North West Ambulance Service in Macclesfield and also team leader for our team of 7 responders.  I have been volunteering with the ambulance service since moving to Macclesfield in 2011.  We provide a response to 999 emergency calls within our local community and provide care and support to the patient and relatives until the arrival of the emergency ambulance.  On average, our team attends around 50-75 999 calls each month. We are dispatched to a wide range of life threatening incidents such as Cardiac Arrests, Heart Attacks, Strokes, Difficulty in Breathing, amongst many more.  As we respond in our local community, we often arrive ahead of the ambulance and can begin to provide life saving treatment sooner for the patient.  As a responder team, we have also fundraised and installed over 15 Community Public Access Defibrillators, which are accessible to the local community by calling 999 should they find themselves faced with a casualty in Cardiac Arrest.  We provide free Emergency Life Support courses each month and have trained hundreds of local residents in CPR and the use of a defibrillator.

I decided to apply to become a first responder back in 2011 as I’ve always had an interest in first aid being a qualified first aid instructor, and wanted to give something back to the local community.  Having seen very early on, the positive impact we have on our patients and their relatives in their time of need, it has driven our team on to become one of the most active in Cheshire and I personally have responded to over 2000 calls.  I recently received a Commendation from the Consultant Paramedic for my early interventions in saving someone’s life who collapsed and went into Cardiac Arrest in the street.  Getting to meet the patient and his wife a few months after the incident and seeing he has made a full recovery remains one of my proudest moments. First Responders can be from any walk of life with full training given by the ambulance service, so I would urge anyone with a few hours to spare each week to see if their local community has a first responder scheme and get involved.

As my local parish church, St Mary’s has always played a large part in my life, over the years I have volunteered in everything from car washes to leading children’s craft and bake days to raise funds for its supported charities. However, more recently, the Friends of St Mary’s required someone to take over the role of Secretary, to minute the meetings of the trustees, which occur at weekends. At about the same time that I took on this role, the charity was tasked with raising £120,000 to install toilet facilities within a 600 year old building, so I volunteered for the role of Head of Grant Applications.

I have been raising the charity’s social media profile by creating our very own Facebook page, and volunteering with cinema nights at the church, fetes, and chutney-making to name but a few things we are doing to try and raise funds.

This goal is not just about the installation of a few toilets – it’s about ensuring that this beautiful building can better serve the needs of the whole community. St Mary's no longer has a church hall as the building was in poor repair and the church could not afford the huge cost of refurbishment.  The hall was used by many community groups, including a play group (which I attended as a child), scouts and sea scouts, a club for the elderly, dance and yoga groups and a youth club.  They would love to continue to meet in the church, but the lack of toilets precludes this for most.  The church and surrounding community do use it for concerts, plays and meetings, but the lack of toilets severely limits attendance.

With the diminishing number of community spaces on our streets it is more important than ever to preserve buildings that can open its doors as a community venue.

Out in Finance unites individuals across the financial services industry to drive LGBTQ+ inclusion and equality. We advance workplace policies across the industry; collaborate with firms on events and engaging with the community; and provide a networking forum for LGBTQ+ financial services professionals.

Our vision is for the financial services industry to be a trusted industry of choice for LGBTQ+ professionals, where they feel safe to be authentic, and are equally included at all levels of an organization.

I am a founding member of Out in Finance and is the Head of Investment Technology at Legal and General Investment Management of America (LGIMA).   I am co-chair for the LGIMA Cultural Working Group which promotes diversity and inclusion across the organization, and I am passionate about improving LGBTQ+ inclusion and visibility within the Financial Services industry – creating equality for all.  I am also involved in building partnerships within the industry, at universities, and within the community.

TackleAfrica use football coaching to teach young Africans about sexual health and HIV. Last year they reached over 20,000 young people across 12 countries. They train coaches to deliver innovative football sessions with inbuilt health messages and ensured over 15,000 young Africans tested for HIV. Last September, they won the 'Football for Good' award at the World Football Summit in Madrid.

I initially got involved by playing in one of their 12 hour football marathons, which are run across several cities in the UK. I quickly learnt how critical their work is and felt compelled to understand more about their programme, but also wanted to raise as much money as I could. Last year, the Brighton marathon raised a record-breaking £74,000! My passion to help the charity grows every year and I’ve now been invited to train as a coach and visit Africa to help raise awareness of sexual health issues.

Charity means bringing happiness to others for me, even if it is only for a short time.  I really never thought about it as charity, since doing this has just been a part of my everyday life. This is something I have done since I was a child.   My Grandparents would take me to the local hospitals and retirement homes every holiday to bring cards, small gifts or just sit and talk.   When I hear someone or an organization needs help I feel compelled to help however I am able to. 

In the past seven years I have been heavily involved in supporting different organizations for cancer research and awareness.  Since I am a cancer survivor this is very important to me.  I do several events a year and every Mother’s Day my family and friends travel to Bethany Beach Delaware to join me in a walk to help raise money to support the local community. 

The one great thing about working for Legal and General America is they feel the same about helping others.  The last couple of years we have been working with The Weinberg House which houses income challenged elderly. There is no greater satisfaction then the one you get when you see the smiles on their faces. Legal and General does several events there a year plus we donated food to the pantry.  Again I am grateful to have the opportunities I have been given at work and home to bring happiness to others.

Charity Champion

I’m the type of person that throws myself into everything and I love learning. When I joined Legal & General Home Finance, I was instantly drawn to vulnerability and wanted to expand my knowledge and be able to support some of our most vulnerable customers to my best possible ability. I started by enrolling on a Principles of Dementia course which helped me understand the basics of Dementia, but I want to do more. I wanted a way to turn my knowledge into something practical, I wanted to help.

This is when after a little research, I found out that the Alzheimer’s society were running a Dementia Friends Champion training course in my area and there was one spot left. With support and encouragement from my manager and the company, I attended and have never looked back.

Dementia Friends is the Alzheimer’s Society’s biggest initiative to change the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about Dementia and aims to raise awareness of Dementia and help people with Dementia feel part of their community. As a Dementia Friend Champion, I run information sessions where I invite all attendees to become a Dementia Friend. To become a dementia friend, you learn a little about what it’s like to live with dementia and then turn that understanding into an action.

I also run sessions for the Alzheimer’s society, I was selected to provide requested sessions due to the passion I showed on the training. This gives me access to companies who are looking for a champion to come into a business or group and run an organised session.

Being a Dementia friend Champion for the Alzheimer’s society, has given me a chance to feel like I am making a difference. It feels like a little piece of me, that I wasn’t even aware was missing, is now on the way to being filled. And with each session and each new Dementia Friend, I gain confidence, a sense of accomplishment like I have never felt before and I have something I am truly and selflessly proud of myself for too.

The YMCA Downslink group works across West and East Sussex, Brighton and Hove, and Surrey providing supported accommodation for vulnerable and often homeless young people, with a wide range of services including counselling, advice, and youth work. Their work addresses areas such as sexual exploitation, mental health, family breakdown, abuse and trauma.

I got involved when I was invited to be part of their ‘Love in a Box’ appeal. This project is about providing a Christmas present for the young people to open as many are estranged from their families and feel very alone, especially at this time of year, and as a parent myself I thought it was heart-breaking. We had a collection at work and were able to take many items, both practical and fun for the young people in the supported housing projects in Hove. We met some of the staff and residents, who told us their inspiring stories which made me want to be involved.

I learnt about a programme called ‘Positive Placements’ which trains volunteer mentors to work with young people, giving them non-judgemental guidance, experience and general support. Mentors are matched based on interests and experience, and the programme joins the wider community with the young people who because of their situation feel estranged or not part of the community they are in.

Last summer I supported the YMCA Downslink Group when they were chosen as the named charity for the ‘Party in the Park’ in Burgess Hill.  Here we raised money and awareness for the projects and the young people they support.

During the ‘Artists Open House’ festival in Brighton the young people who YMCA support create photos or artworks based on themes – last year it was ‘Who Inspires You?’ and the year before it was ‘Identity’.  The event helps raise awareness of what they do, as everyone who goes in to the YMCA office where the work is on view will see alongside the artwork displays, about different projects and how to donate or volunteer.

Being a Samaritan means being there for anyone who needs someone to listen to them without judgement or pressure.  Although Samaritans was originally set up to help prevent suicide it also provides emotional support by helping vulnerable people at their most difficult time.  By giving people time, undivided attention and empathy meets a fundamental emotional need for anyone struggling to cope.

Samaritans also run a Listeners scheme in Prisons.  I am part of the Reigate Samaritans Prison team supporting High Down Prison in Banstead.  The team run training sessions for specially selected Prisoners to become Listeners to provide emotional support to other Prisoners.  As part of the team I attend Saturday meetings in the Prison with the Listeners giving them the chance to discuss the calls they have dealt with during the week.

I started volunteering as a Samaritan in Reigate in 2016.  It takes about 6 months to be trained including mentoring before you can start taking calls on your own and I have to do 180 hours of various shifts per year. Although there are several ways to contact Samaritans my preference is always the telephone as it gives you a chance to really connect with people.

The first time taking a call on your own is nerve-racking and your training kicks in but even now with 3 years under my belt, there is still the sense of the unknown when you pick up the phone as you never know who will be on the other end or what you will discuss with issues as diverse as bereavement, addiction, bullying, loneliness, and many people with mental health challenges that have no-one else to speak to. 

People often ask if I enjoy being a Samaritan but enjoy isn’t the right word, it’s very challenging, sometimes shifts are demanding and other times rewarding.  The work I do with the Samaritans pushes me outside of my comfort zone.  I am very lucky to have family, friends, a home, job and good health and to be in a position where I can give my time to listen and hopefully make others people’s lives a little easier and this is something I am proud of.

I support two charities, Ride Cymru annual event that I’ve been doing since 2016 in aid of Macmillan cancer support and Blood Bikes which I volunteer for as well as help fund raise.

I volunteer as a blood bike Biker rider and a rota manager role within the organisation, which was just voted Wales charity of the year. I also do a weekend night shift 8pm to 8am twice a month.

Blood Bikes is a charity that operates all over the UK, but each region has its own branch. I’m a member of the Mid Wales branch. We provide a 100% free courier service to the NHS transporting vital blood and other fluids such as breast milk for babies, which quite literally save lives every day, supply blood and fluids to the Air Ambulance service, and save our NHS hundreds of thousands of pounds in transport costs each year.

We ride specially designed 1300cc motorbikes, and provide the service 365 days a year, in all weathers.  The volunteers provide their time for free in 12 hour shifts, from 8am to 8pm and from 8pm to 8am. We have scheduled transport runs to complete, as well as being on call for emergency collections/drop offs.

The cost of a motorbike is currently about £14,000 as well as the admin equipment to co-ordinate everything - GPS and phone equipment also used by our volunteer controllers who ensure the people on the bikes are going where they need to and when, and that they report in regularly. We need your help and support to provide this free service.