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Tracy - Volunteer

Tracy has been volunteering with CHAS for almost 20 years.

Hear about Tracy's experiences with CHAS and how volunteering has changed over the past two decades.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I was born in Paisley but I lived in Milngavie until I was 22. I moved to Lochgoilhead in Argyll in 1987 6 months before getting married and stayed there until 1999.

In early 2002 we decided we wanted to adopt and around the same time I read an article in the local paper saying that CHAS was looking for volunteers. I had heard of CHAS before because I’d helped a friend do some fundraising for the charity so I phoned the Glasgow CHAS office to find out more about volunteering.

In March 2002, I started as a fundraising volunteer. After five years (and lots of encouragement!) I became a volunteer speaker. As a volunteer speaker I identify opportunities to engage new audiences in the work of CHAS by arranging and delivering talks.

Over the years I’ve also helped out with bits and pieces wherever needed like at the Kiltwalk or Bubble rushes (A 5k course that starts in a sea of bubbles and features four bubble stations along the route with cannons pumping out coloured foam).

You’ve been volunteering with CHAS for almost 20 years – what drives you to continue to volunteer for the charity?

In some ways you can tell it has been 20 years because of how things changed. Nothing stands still. Advances in technology have meant being more inventive with how we care for families and engage with them. This year in particular, everyone has had to think outside of the box due to the pandemic but it was amazing to see CHAS launch their virtual hospice service so quickly and help families who have been isolated because of restrictions and having to shield.

The services and care CHAS provides have never been more needed and will be for a long, long time to come.

For as long as I am able to do something, then I will keep going. As long as I am physically and mentally able, I will keep going.

Have you found that there any unexpected benefits to volunteering with CHAS?

Before I became a volunteer speaker I was quite a shy and the reserved type. My confidence is better, in terms of public speaking now than before, and not just when I’m speaking about CHAS. I have always felt like a fairly empathetic person but I feel this has increased since starting volunteering.

When you think about your volunteering with CHAS is there a specific story you can tell that sums up your experience?

I always practice my CHAS talks around the house, looking into the mirror etc. I also like to get a bit of information about a group before picking up a cheque or speaking at an event and always make sure to glance around the room when delivering the sad part of a talk to check in with the audience. I’ll always remember when my husband came along to one of the talks I was giving; when I looked around the room, I saw he was crying. It was the first time that he had heard a full story and put the pieces together.

At the same talk, a man wearing a kilt and sporran came up to me afterwards and said he had something to donate to CHAS. He took something out of his sporran and shook my hand and we spoke for a while. When I opened my hand up under the table to see what he had put in it I saw he had given me a £3,000 in cash! I was completely taken aback at his generosity but so pleased he wanted to support a charity that is so close to my heart.

What 3 words would you use to sum up CHAS?

Caring, leading, fun.

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