Our Volunteers

You’ve heard about who we are, what we do, and even a little about some of the people that support us on a daily basis. We’d like to introduce some of those amazing individuals now, and let them speak for themselves…

THE VOLUNTEERS

 A former chairperson, patient liaison officer, and fundraiser for The Karen Trust, 38-year old Mary now volunteers for The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation as a fundraiser.

“Naomi first contacted The Karen Trust, a charity which I helped to found, while she was organising her own wedding. I was touched by her personal story and her wish to get married, so I jumped at the chance to help her and Graham. My involvement with The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation came as a natural progression for me, and I now help out by organising various fundraising events, networking, and spreading the charity’s name and cause.

Depending on the event, or task at hand, I work anything from three, to at least twelve, hours a week for the charity. Naomi is based in Exeter while I live in Bedfordshire, so we maintain contact via emails and phone calls, as well as the odd meeting that I attend with other fundraisers or suppliers. Despite the distance it has never been difficult to fit volunteering around my life. If anything it has helped me to realise how lucky I am, and to appreciate life more – I am proud of every moment I can give them. My previous charity work has certainly helped, as I already have a network of contacts that I can call upon when the need arises. Working with Naomi has only deepened my appreciation for the work I am able to do for others, and I find volunteering to be rewarding and fulfilling as I try to make a difference to society.

I get so much out of helping The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation but the highlight, for me, was having the chance to meet Naomi. If I had never met her, Graham, or their son, Devon, I may never have taken the path that I did. They inspired me to the point where I felt I had to do something worthwhile with my time. It helped that I could relate to Naomi’s story, having almost lost my Dad to cancer when I was just 14 years old. I have always looked up to my Dad, and his vision was to help people and try to improve their lives in whatever way possible. I like to think that I am upholding his ideal; it’s one of the best feelings I could ask for.”

Laura, a 33-year old mother of two, works as a Peripatetic Music Teacher, as well as operating a music school in Exeter and volunteering for a children’s orchestra. Having met Naomi through mutual friends, she now volunteers her time as an administrator for The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation.

“I had already come to hear about Naomi and The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation via a mutual friend, and saw a Facebook status back in June 2013 asking for volunteers now that the charity had really taken off. I regulary raise money for charities through my work and Naomi’s story really touched my heart. It was also something that little bit different from my day-to-day work, so I contacted Naomi immediately.

My volunteer role incorporates all aspects of administration for the charity, such as replying to enquiries from those who would like to register for our supplier database, or potential fundraisers. I also help Naomi out at a local wedding fayres when I can, speaking to people and making them aware of the charity. I do my best to log into the system whenever I can – normally one to two hours at a time, incorporating my charity work into my daily routine. Not all emails involve a straightforward reply, though, as many of the people we talk to will have experienced tragedy. It’s important to be sensitive in every communication.

Being a part of The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation has taught me to live each day as if it was my last, and to respect everyone as you never know what’s around the corner. I have never come across so many generous and kind people, and from all walks of life. It’s amazing the time people give to send an email to us. Some of the people who contact us have lost a partner, friend, or family member to a terminal or sudden illness. I have so much respect for them, and I am sure they get so much out of being able to support others, as they themselves have been comforted. It’s often easier for them to speak to a complete stranger than someone they know, and it can be emotional at times. Nothing gives me more pride and satisfaction than being able to give my time to people and raising awareness of this fantastic charity.”

Ruth, a 32-year old married mother of two, discovered The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation via Facebook and decided to become a sponsor. She now volunteers in the charity’s bridal store, La Boutique, in Exeter.

“While I operate my own cake making business now, I have always enjoyed working for charities and, as a child, would fundraise for the RNLI. My first job was working, unpaid, at the ‘Ten Of Us’ charity shop in the local town, so I suppose you could say that I was born to be a volunteer. Nothing else comes as naturally to me.

I try and give at least four hours work a week, although I would quite happily be there for the charity 24/7 if I could. Meeting Naomi has been an amazing experience; to be in the presence of a person that is so open, bright and driven in the face of adversity is such an inspiration that I could not help but offer my time to The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation.

La Boutique raises much-needed funds for the foundation, selling wedding dresses, shoes, jewellery, accessories and bridal party outfits. It is my job to catalogue the dresses that we have in stock, help out with fittings, and fulfil any other tasks that need doing about the shop. It has been endlessly rewarding, helping brides to find their dream gown while knowing we are helping such amazing couples to achieve their own dream wedding day.

Volunteering with The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation has made me take stock of what’s important to me, and has made worry less about the things that I can’t control – to embrace life. It helps having someone like Naomi as my inspiration, striving to do more, and to be more like her in the future.

There is a beautiful video on the homepage of The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation’s website. If you have to wipe away a tear, or are touched by how openly Naomi discusses her illness, you shouldn’t hesitate to help out. The volunteer’s job is essential to the running of the charity, and you’d be surprised just what you could offer. Even if you haven’t got the time to spare, I’d implore you to donate. Every extra pound that is raised funds another part of a special couple’s day.”

Administration and bridal wear volunteer Claire, a 37-year old hospitality worker, heard about The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation via Twitter. She volunteers between eight and twelve hours a week around her own consultancy, Signature Events.

“At first I was completely struck by Naomi’s life and the amazing story she was sharing, as well as by the amazing work that the charity achieves; it just touched my heart. Although I initially considered fundraising, I knew deep down that I could give more. Over the past 25 years, I have built a career in hospitality, events and weddings so it was the most natural feeling to open up my arms and say, ‘let me help you’. Sharing this journey with a couple who have challenging health issues to manage at the same time is deeply gratifying, and I’ve never looked back.

Volunteering for The Wedding Wishing Well is uplifting and rewarding in so many ways. Everything we do has an immediate impact upon the charity, whether it’s directly for the couples, together with our wonderful supporters and suppliers, or seeing Naomi’s face when we accomplish big tasks; it’s so rewarding.

Each day is completely different, with a new idea, task or challenge to complete. I support Naomi in the office with administration duties, helping her with the countless emails we receive each day, coordinating suppliers, thanking supporters and, of course, planning for upcoming weddings. I also represent the charity and its bridal shop, La Boutique, at wedding fairs in the South West. Naomi has created so many opportunities to raise awareness and fundraising, while still managing time to plan the weddings with our deserving couples.

Volunteering for such a special organisation is a real pleasure, and something I wish I had done much sooner. I have been with the charity since October 2013 and have enjoyed every moment, particularly helping with the weddings. Each one is so unique in character and style, so personal to each couple, and it is fulfilling to know that I’ve played a part in their memorable day with their family and friends. I am determined to achieve more for the charity. My long-term plan is to run the London Marathon in 2016, on my 40th birthday, and raise as much awareness and monies as possible. Training has already started!

Before The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation I had never volunteered for a charity before. It has definitely impacted on my life forever.”

Jo, a 37-year old wedding and events planner, was recently awarded The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation’s ‘Volunteer of the Year’ award at the charity’s annual appreciation dinner in 2014. She currently volunteers her time as a host and fundraiser.

“I came across The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation completely by chance and, as I read more and more about them, felt compelled to offer my services. I remember the day Naomi first contacted me to discuss how I could help; we had never met before, and yet she was sharing such a personal story with me. She gives up so much of the precious time she has left in order to help others have their dream wedding day. The call ended and I just sat and cried my heart out.

I have been volunteering for the charity since October 2012, and offer my time as a fundraiser and host. This involves helping out at events, spreading awareness of the charity, and attending wedding fairs on Naomi’s behalf. I often attend networking events as part of owning my own wedding company, so it comes very easily to me to talk about The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation! I would say I give around fifteen hours per month, although it can sometimes be more or less, depending on what has been going on. Additionally I am a County Fundraising Coordinator, so my time also involves supporting others in my area that would like to fundraise.

Working so closely with Naomi means that we have become firm friends, and I do get quite emotional when I hear from her about her treatment, or any bad days. It’s so easy to forget she has cancer too; she is such a strong and inspirational person that she never lets it bring her down. Her determination simply spurs me on to help out as much as I can.

Prior to meeting Naomi I had never been actively involved with a charity before. The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation is closely connected with my profession, so I feel I can offer my experience across a range of aspects. It definitely feels good to know that I am making a difference, and I am lucky to be able to see the difference that I am helping to make; to see the pictures of the couple enjoying their dream day because of the charity’s hard work makes it all worthwhile.”

36-year old Donna is a fulltime Optical Receptionist. She currently volunteers as an administrator and fundraiser, helping out in the office on three Mondays of every month and working from home.

“I had been an Optical receptionist for ten years and was looking for a new challenge, although I had initially been scouring the local paper’s voluntary section on behalf of my mum. An advert caught my eye, that of The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation, and I was immediately curious. I have always enjoyed weddings and all of the bits and pieces that go with them, so volunteering for the charity seemed like a natural thing for me to do.

I think it’s important to really enjoy any volunteer work that you undertake, as the hours can add up. I am able to work from home much of the time, and its helps that I have a real passion for the charity and its cause. My main job is to assist with the huge amount of emails that we get on a day to day a basis, as well as searching out new suppliers and fundraisers, and sorting through our huge database for those who can help at an event or wedding. I also contact local wedding fair organisers to arrange stands, and encourage fundraisers to hold regular events – raising awareness of The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation is so important. It’s not always the easiest job in the world, but its so rewarding when you meet likeminded people with great ideas – it really restores your faith in the world!

I originally entered volunteer work with the aim of making new friends and learning new skills, both of which I am achieving. I am on a constant learning curve, having never done anything like this before, and I am eager to learn as I go. The charity has given me so much, and is a great cause; we may not save lives, but we give our couples something to look forward too, a light in their darkest times and the chance to have family and friends around them to celebrate. It can be very humbling to hear people’s stories, and we work with those who are, often, at the lowest point in their life. The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation can give them a focus, something to really look forward to and THAT’S what motivates me when things get tough. The amount of help that is offered to us astonishes me every time.

I come from a background of charity workers, but had never done any voluntary work before. I entered into it with nothing to lose and I’ve gained so much.”

Volunteering…take our advice!

Mary says: In order to volunteer you should be compassionate and committed to the cause, and be able to go out boldly and ask for donations. Anyone can volunteer if they have the heart and passion, but it helps to be patient, determined, well mannered, and tactful when communicating.

Laura says: Anyone can volunteer. It doesn’t matter how much time you can give; every moment helps. A computer, or laptop, and Wi-Fi are handy! You do have to be a sympathetic and strong person, though, as there is an emotional element to any volunteering role.

Ruth says: Volunteers need to have passion, commitment, a positive mentality, and the ability to see the bigger picture, as well as dependability, selflessness and integrity, although anyone can help to fundraise or raise awareness of a charitable cause.

Claire says: Even an hour a week can make such a difference to a charity. Each and every one of us has attributes that we can share with others, raising awareness and making this world a happier and safer place. Sharing the word of a needing charity is so simple and affective, and the rewards can be enormous.

Jo says: I am sure that everybody has it in them to host a fundraising event, or donate their time to a worthy cause. Different people will have their own experiences to bring to the table, and we have seen some amazing events hosted in The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation’s honour. The possibilities are endless!

Donna says: Before you consider volunteering, first take the time to consider what you are good at, what you are hoping to gain, and the time you’d be able to dedicate. Regardless of background or experience, education or abilities, anyone can volunteer something. If there is a cause close to your heart get up and contact them. Be part of it so that, one day, you’ll be able to say with pride, “I did that”.

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