Volunteering takes many forms. Some people are naturally drawn to it, others not. I do a bit, and I enjoy doing what comes naturally, and what falls in with other commitments I have.
My main volunteering focuses on others exerting themselves, whilst I guide and encourage them to do so. This sounds like a good deal for me, and usually takes the form of a weekly 3 hours at Souter Lighthouse – the National Trust property on the NE coast of England – where I am on the team for the Great Run Local every Sunday morning, helping manage the 5k and 2k running events. I love it, and the people of all ages who are involved, many of whom have become friends. My presence there extends to other events at the location, such as the twice-yearly Night Run, complete with head torches.
Daughter Alice was Social Media Manager with the Great Run Company, before starting her own business, and this connection has extended to our (Sue and I) being asked if we could volunteer at the Great SwimRun event at Windermere in early June. It would be an all-day 8-5 commitment on our part.
For our first time, we were stationed in the pouring rain at the boathouse at Brathay – I’d never been as wet in my life. Picture below of me looking happy, in spite of the weather.
For 2018 and 2019, we were stationed nearer the finish line, at Low Wood Bay. I was given the prime position directly opposite the prestigious Low Wood Bay hotel, ensuring that runners moved safely off the Ambleside Road pavement into the relative safety of the park next to the yacht club from where they would leap into the water for their final swim to the finish line.
The Ambleside Road is one of the busiest in the Lake District, and on a sunny Saturday in June, was a magnet for many classic cars making their way between Windermere, and the show ground at Grasmere, so lots of lovely old cars to spot. It is never arduous, but it does require concentration at all times, and fortunately, I had clear sight of any approaching athletes for about 600 yards, so was able to time any toilet breaks to perfection, across the road in the hotel.
I also warned the hotel that I would be out there, not to worry about me and would be quite open to them bringing me the occasional coffee and cake, if it looked as though I was flagging. Well, there are times in life when you just have to be bold. The picture below is an example of their hospitality. Much appreciated, Willow.
In spite of my solo position, occasionally interrupted by athletes coming through, each day of 8 hours passes extremely quickly, making the volunteering job a real joy to do – especially when the sun is shining as it did in 2018, a real novelty in the Lakes.