Spotlight on: National Volunteer Week I left school at the age of 17 and went straight to work for Shell. I started in the typing pool – some of you might remember those! Over 35 years later I was still there, having had many wonderful jobs and opportunities. I got to travel to some amazing countries around the world organising conferences and events and through this, Shell gave me so many skills and experiences, which I now carry with me to help others. Leaving work you can fill your time with family, friends and hobbies but that didn’t feel quite enough for me as I had worked all my life. I needed to find something that would fulfill me, but I really didn’t want to be tied down too much of a routine again. Flexibility was essential for me. I decided that volunteering might fill that gap. But where do you start? If you google volunteer opportunities there are so many – how do you decide which one? I narrowed it down to looking for a children’s charity, so that I could give some time to support young people. Time went on and things got in the way so I didn’t continue my search. By chance I saw a posting on Facebook by my niece about a Cherry Trees Open Day for volunteers. I went along, not quite knowing what to expect… it was a bit scary to be honest. Would I fit in, what could I offer? The first person I met was Debbie. She could not have been more welcoming. Her passion for Cherry Trees rubbed off on me. After an introduction about Cherry Trees and a tour of the house I knew I had found the charity that I would like to volunteer for – if they wanted me! A few weeks later I joined the team in the Fundraising Office to help with their admin. What a great office to be part of. The office is full of energy and laughter and everyone has the same purpose to support Cherry Trees in every way they can. Everyone wants to be there… which you cannot say about all offices. Volunteering at Cherry Trees you never know what you will be asked to help with. Since I joined the team I have been asked to: research event venues, update data bases, log/label collection tins, support events with cake making/tea serving and of course make the odd cup of team for the team! It’s a good variety and I find myself recalling familiar office skills and also doing somethings for the first time – like this blog! This weekend I am donning my shorts in the aid of charity and joining Cherry Trees It’s a Knockout team. I know it entails water, an inflatable assault course and not sure what else but after being persuaded to join the team it’s going to be a mad morning getting wet! Becoming a volunteer at Cherry Trees makes a real difference. It is a small charity and what you do really matters, I would encourage any-one out there who’s heard about National Volunteer week and is looking to volunteer to get in touch with Cherry Trees. The reasons why they offer respite care and what they do for families makes them a cause with a real need and there’s lots of ways you can help them by joining as a volunteer. (Words by Marion). Our volunteers make a huge difference to Cherry Trees with their skills sets, willingness and personalities. Last year over 5000 hours of volunteering were given to us by them. Could this be the year you join us ? Look up volunteering opportunities under 'get involved'. Our volunteers work alongside our staff making amazing moments happen in the house, at events and in our fundraising office. Image: NGS High Clandon Estate Vineyard, 2019 credit Anna Reid.