Before Christmas 2016 I attended a flower-arranging workshop and then a pre-Christmas event to make decorations for the church. The amount of work that goes on behind the scenes, let alone for the displays themselves astounded me, along with the dedication and talent of a huge band of people, and they were all so welcoming, friendly and willing to let us newbies have a go.

All articles on this page are by Jo Cook.  Photos by Lesley Parsons, Click to enlarge


It struck me that if this was going on in just this area, what else had I taken for granted – the churchyard looking so beautiful, just assuming there would be music in church, the cleanliness of the church, enjoying the refreshments and social events, being served Communion, collecting the hymn books on the way into church, the sound of bells calling me to church on a Sunday, someone reading, composing the prayers, my magazine being produced and delivered – the list is endless.

  With this in mind, and the fact that I had heard Matthew on many occasion stating that it takes a hundred volunteers to keep our church going, I thought it would be fitting to celebrate and thank all our volunteers together and what better way than a cream tea.

I then started collating all the groups of people and to my astonishment, as well as Matthew’s, I discovered that there are nearer three hundred members of our community that keep our church going! 

How amazing is that (and terrifying in terms of catering!)?

This is definitely something to give thanks to God and thanks to each other for, for keeping our wonderful church not just up and running but working so seamlessly.  The amount of love, work and hours put in is awe-inspiring and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I hope you all enjoyed the cream tea; Judging by the numerous thank you emails, cards and conversations, for which I am really grateful, I think it went well and it was lovely to see everyone interacting together.

I would like to thank you for the help in clearing up and for your generous support of the raffle which raised an amazing £189.50 for the charity of the month, The Stroke Association.  

Why Volunteer?

Volunteering is hopefully a win-win situation. Primarily I firstly did it to help out at Sunday School and then I needed to volunteer to help myself. I gained friends, new skills and confidence, and enjoyment from all my roles and hopefully in return I have helped out saving other people time.

However, it does have to be at the right time for you as taking on too much when you are not ready becomes counterproductive.




Volunteering for Me

My first introduction to volunteering came in October 2009 when I joined the St Giles Sunday School Team as an Assistant Leader, along with a number of others. I’m not quite sure how I found myself doing this, I think perhaps because I stayed at the sessions anyway with my daughter, Isabelle, and also I wanted to help out the then Leader, my friend, Jacqui Brown, as she had spent many years tirelessly running the school and never got a break to worship in church herself.

Jacqui has a magnificent way with children as all who have met her will testify, and it was a privilege to be able to learn from the best and a testament of her teaching skills that we were let loose in couples to assist in running the group on a rota basis. I remember being incredibly nervous for quite a while but in the, what I think was about, six years that I did this it was immensely rewarding, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the children and making crafts and had enormous fun with my partner in crime, Clare Slyfield.

Somehow, about a year later, I also started volunteering at St Giles in 2010 helping out Liz in the Parish Office. After a long period of illness I had lost all self-confidence and was concerned that I had also lost my abilities as an administrator - yet I knew I somehow would have to return to paid work. Matthew kindly suggested that I help out as a gentle route back both to building selfesteem and testing the water to see if I was still me! I was terrified both at being back in an office environment and of finding out if I still had “it”, in case I had lost the one thing I felt I had been really good at; I liken it to Schrödinger’s cat (probably incorrectly) – if I didn’t “open the box” I would be both good and bad at admin and I was not sure if I wanted to face the reality and find out. Still, as I had to get back to work, I had no choice.

On our first encounter with each other I can only liken Liz and me to a couple of animals circling round each other, trying to work out if we were friends or foes and should we trust each other! Liz was not used to having to share her workspace with anyone other than Matthew and I was out of practice working in an office environment. It was a gentle introduction, initially filing and sorting out but it wasn’t long before I grew in confidence and was trusted with writing letters and record-keeping and writing up the service register. Gradually our trust in each other grew and I hope Liz will agree that we have become good friends! I will be forever grateful to her for allowing me to take over her (and now my) favourite but lengthy job of writing up the marriage registers and I consider it an honour to have this small but important part in a wedding.

I am pleased to say that all our efforts led me to a parttime temporary paid administrative post and I went on to get a permanent post in the same company in 2012 where I have been ever since, where my skills and confidence have grown further. I honestly don’t think I would be where I am today if Matthew (and Liz) had not offered me that chance and I will be eternally thankful (even if I do now have to dodge behind a tree when I see him coming for fear of being sold the benefits of taking on another role in St Giles!!).