I was inspired to volunteer for Shooting Star Children’s Hospices as there was something about turning 30 and having children of my own that made me want to try to help families that weren’t as fortunate as mine; families that have to deal with such difficult, unimaginable circumstances.
I have been a volunteer ambassador since 2009, which is a fancy-sounding title for somebody who attends various events in the community on behalf of Shooting Star, to talk to audiences about the great work that the charity does. Sometimes it involves a Powerpoint presentation and Q&A, other times just a 2 minute appearance up on a stage with a microphone in hand. My job (Marketing Director for a food company) involves lots of public speaking, storytelling and trying to persuade people. That experience helps me when I speak at events.
One event that really sticks in my mind is a talk I did inside HMP Coldingly. The prisoners put on a concert and chose Shooting Star Children’s Hospices as the charity to benefit from the money they raised, so I spoke at the interval to say ‘thank you’ and told them a bit about how their donations would be used. Coldingly is a working prison, and I was touched to see how many prisoners donated at least one week’s worth of their wages. They finished the concert with a rousing rendition of the Clash’s “I Fought the Law” – Nice!
Definitely the most fulfilling thing about my volunteering role is being able to go out and spread the word about what incredible work the teams at Shooting Star do for families. It’s a story that inspires me, and I love the difference it makes when I get to tell that story to members of our local community.
Outside of volunteering, I like running, and take part in Bushy Parkrun most Saturdays. I was fortunate enough to be part of Shooting Star’s team that ran the London Marathon in 2019, and have fond memories of the team training sessions in Richmond Park on chilly Sunday mornings. I love football, pool and animals, am a bit of a nerdy wine buff, and am even more nerdy about American football. My favourite thing of all though is just pottering around with my wife, kids and dog.
What would I say to prospective Shooting Star volunteers? Jump in and do it. You’ll be great at it, and your support as a volunteer will make a big difference.