I was not made to feel like a 67-year-old retiree looking for something to do

By Sallie Grayson. Filed in volunteer stories  |  
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We had to share this lovely piece from previous volunteer Peter.

Peter and co volunteer Mel

Peter and co volunteer Mel

LITTLE did I realise what the outcome would be when I responded to an advertisement in the Daily Telegraph inviting would-be volunteers to take the plunge.

I had never heard of people and places let alone the dynamic duo, Kate and Sallie.

It seemed a good way to visit a part of the world I had dreamed about since childhood.

How can I best describe my initial conversation with Kate? It was warm, welcoming and – most important – enthusiastic. I was not made to feel like a 67-year-old retiree looking for something to do with my spare time. She made me feel that I was already a vital cog in the people and places engine. Age did not matter; what I had to give was the important part.

I have always believed that without enthusiasm any plans are dead in the water. Unless the person displays this, there is no chance of it turning into inspiration. There was no danger of this happening. My every idea was listened to and encouraged and in some ways improved upon thanks to Kate’s past experiences. Every step of my way to becoming a ‘bona fide’ volunteer was eased by her. My inane questions were always treated with respect and care. Any annoyances of officialdom were sorted out calmly and with confidence.

The path to my volunteering could not have been smoother.

On my return both Kate and Sallie were eager to learn of my experiences, their enthusiasm being as great as ever. When we met for what might be described as a de-brief, I knew I had made the right decision after reading that notice in the Telegraph.

Now, seven years down the line after my initial volunteering expedition, I am still in touch with Kate who is always ready to help and advise when I prepare to return for another dose of this most wonderful life-lengthening tonic. For example when I decided to turn my English lessons into a newspaper, with the children becoming reporters both Kate and Sallie encouraged me. The children write the stories and I correct the copy – in their presence – and when we have enough we publish a newspaper. Their suggestions were always sound and helped to improve the exercise.

Kate and Sallie have become my friends – inspirational friends. Who could ask for more?

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