Richard volunteers with us as a pool drysider, supporting our care team with families using our Hydrotherapy pool.
My wife and I visited Shooting Star House when there was an Open Day. She applied as a volunteer, initially in Admin and when she described the pool drysider job, thought I could do it. As I was free most of the time, I became a regular and was there quite often. I enjoyed meeting people and found a lot of satisfaction in helping them. After the COVID lockdown, I returned and now do the same job weekly.
I get there early and prepare the pool, taking the cover off, checking that the water tests are okay, the hoist works, etc. Sometimes music is played so I arrange that if required and I check pool toys, balls, and floats. I am there for safety reasons to help people out of the pool in an emergency and to bring floats and other things for the physio team in the pool. People are always grateful for my help, I find real pleasure in being there. I’m privileged to actually meet the children with their parents and carers directly. I am also master of Keifer Board deployment which is the equipment used if there is an emergency and we need to evacuate the pool.
My previous experience has helped me in volunteering as I have patience! I worked in broadcast television where there were often delays, last-minute cancellations, and a lot of waiting around. At the pool often families are delayed by transport or medical emergencies, so it pays to be flexible. As I had worked in TV I was also able to make a video which is used in training.
What would I say to prospective Shooting Star volunteers? Go for it! Every volunteer is valued and has a part to play. I am thanked to an embarrassing degree but need no thanks as I get such satisfaction from my role. There are lots of wonderful people working at Shooting Star Children’s Hospices, you’re missing out if you don’t join them.
As well as Shooting Star, I also volunteer for an online children’s reading charity called Bookmark. I think they do a wonderful job encouraging a love of books and the ability to read.