Alan was inspired to volunteer with CHAS after a talk at his local church. He's now been a volunteer with us for almost 20 years!
“Retirement hasn't slowed me down, thanks to volunteering. Not only have I gained valuable experience, but I've also had the pleasure of meeting an incredible variety of people.”
Alan has now been a volunteer with CHAS for almost 20 years! One of his most memorable experiences was when he volunteered to collect cans from the Heriot Watt University shop. Through their efforts, the university shop raised a remarkable £10,000 for CHAS. Alan has certainly counted a lot of cash!
What prompted you to become a CHAS volunteer?
I had taken early retirement from the District Council and always wanted to help with a charity. I guided for a blind golfer for many years and he played into his early nineties. I felt I still had time to give and when a very nice lady from CHAS came to our Church and told us about CHAS - I was inspired to help. That was how it all started!
Tell us about your volunteering roles.
Initially, for many years I volunteered in the office on a Friday and worked as odd jobs man on Friday's! There was no shortage of tasks to tackle, ranging from stuffing envelopes and refreshing and counting collecting cans, to preparing mail for pick-up, selling Christmas cards, and tackling various other things. Latterly, I was let loose on a computer followed soon after by becoming a can co-ordinator. While in the office I was persuaded to be Santa for the Christmas get together for volunteers. My wife was taken aback when I went down the road in my Santa gear, but cars enjoyed it and gave me a blast with their horn! I have also done many bucket shakes over the years and I remember one event at the Corn Exchange in Edinburgh where I was tasked with taking pound coins for customers to leave their bags before purchases were made. For two hours I took in as many bags as I could. It was amazing and made a lot of money.
Can you tell us about any specific projects you’ve been involved in or any particular accomplishments where you feel you really made a difference?
I was involved in the original charity Christmas card shop, which took place for five weeks every Christmas and involved twelve charities including CHAS. CHAS were one of the top selling charities. I spent four years as Treasurer for the shop and found that quite a challenge but managed to balance the books in time for the audit! Unfortunately, we had to switch to a new venue, and after giving it a try, we ultimately decided to discontinue operations there.
What challenges, if any have you faced as a volunteer?
I don't have anything significant to mention, but getting the mail ready for pick-up was often challenging because it usually came in at the last minute. Also, when I first started going out to collect cans it was sometimes a challenge finding the collection points.
And what about successes?
I must have been quite successful as I am now in my twentieth year!
What advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a volunteer with CHAS?
CHAS is a brilliant charity and to be able to help children with life limiting conditions is very worthwhile. CHAS has many dedicated volunteers and long may it continue. Anyone interested in a volunteering role should not hesitate to join.
How do you balance your volunteer work with your other responsibilities and commitments?
Being retired helps greatly in being able to find a bit of spare time.
What do you think is the most important quality a successful volunteer should have?
Dedication and a sense of humour!
How you think your volunteer work has contributed to your personal growth or development?
Retirement hasn't slowed me down, thanks to volunteering. Not only have I gained valuable experience, but I've also had the pleasure of meeting an incredible variety of people.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I really enjoyed the annual conferences over the years which gave you a great variety of talks on topics which provided you with a further insight into CHAS and it was particularly pleasing to hear from the parents.