Meet Chailey Heritage’s ‘Fantastic Four’!

01 June 2020

Meet Chailey Heritage’s ‘Fantastic Four’!

Part of the charity’s small army of volunteers. Ian, Avril, David and Jenny have clocked up an amazing total of 50 years volunteering at Chailey Heritage.

From driving to knitting, fundraising to giving talks, they have used existing skills and learned new ones to support the charity.

1st – 7th June is National Volunteers’ Week - a chance for charities to celebrate and say thank you to their volunteers for their efforts.

At Chailey Heritage, 64 volunteers support the team and make a real difference to the quality of care the staff are able to give.

Helen Hewitt, the charity’s Chief Executive, said:

"We are so grateful to our volunteers, as without their contributions some of the activities we are able to offer our young people would be almost impossible. For example, our hippotherapy – riding for young people with some of the most challenging disabilities – and outings simply would not be possible without their dedication”.

Chailey Heritage volunteers get involved for all sorts of reasons. Some have been inspired by the work of the charity, others wanted to share their skills, but all of them feel they are part of a unique and caring family.

Volunteer Ian Kirby, now retired from a senior management job in London, actually moved to nearby Haywards Heath so he could carry on with his volunteering. Today he works as a driver and ambassador for the charity but his volunteer connection goes back more than 30 years.

Ian said:

“In life, it is very easy to be of value but to be valued is much harder. The staff at Chailey Heritage are brilliant at making you feel valued and part of their team”.

The passion volunteers feel for Chailey Heritage inspired some volunteers to take on new roles and acquire new skills. Jenny Bass retired from a career as a dental nurse last year and realised she wanted to be part of a team that embodied her previous role as part of a caring profession. Living very close to the Chailey Heritage site, she first got involved doing admin tasks but, after taking a course, she is now one of a group of ambassadors who take the charity’s message out into the community.

Jenny said:

“My granddaughter has a very slight learning difficulty as a result of a small bleed on the brain as a baby. I saw the wonderful care she received and wanted to give something back. Chailey Heritage is the most rewarding place to be”.

Every year, the volunteers work hundreds of hours in the gardens, in the community, on the farm and helping the fundraising and the horse riding team. 28-year-old David Fawdrey has been volunteering for 4 years. He has learning difficulties and visual impairment and, after some initial one to one support, he has become a valued member of the admin team.

Helen Hewitt added:

“David will be moving from helping the admin team to volunteering in our Life Skills Centre, which is a fantastic opportunity to develop his skills. We are an inclusive community – everyone is accepted, everyone matters and our mission is to enable young people to pursue their potential. So it is a real privilege to work with David and help him to realise his goal of a new role and greater independence”.

Volunteering hours offer an invaluable support to Chailey Heritage with many volunteers choosing to channel their skills into fundraising. A chance meeting with a mum whose child was a pupil at the charity inspired Avril Austin from Lewes to take up her knitting needles and create her signature cuddly toys. Three years on and Avril has made almost 600 of them and raised hundreds of pounds for the charity.

Avril said:

“After I retired, I needed something to keep me sane! At Chailey Heritage, I am part of something special and, being creative, I can help raise some money whilst doing something I love”.

Nina Gopal, Head of Fundraising said:

“Our volunteers contribute in so many ways. In these days of lockdown, we are unable to see them but we look forward to welcoming them back to Chailey Heritage where they are hugely appreciated and valued!”

If you are interested in volunteering with Chailey Heritage Foundation a list of our current volunteering opportunities can be found here, but if there isnt something which matches your skills please get in touch here.

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