Special week for volunteers

A relative youngster at 79, Cambridge Tree Trust head Don Willoughby (centre) in the hothouse with the two ‘elder statesman’ among their volunteer crew – Jim McKnight (89) on the left, and Mike Short (88). All three are life members.

Cambridge’s robust volunteers were doing what they do best as the country marked National Volunteer Week over June 17 to 23 – just getting on with the job at hand.

This is a town rich in volunteers.  They are the fire-folk who respond to the siren, the people who help field emergency calls, those who keep crucial services going, people who help others in need, and those who make sure we scrub up well.

The theme for National Volunteer Week was ‘Volunteers, The Heart of our Community – By many, the work will be completed’. It is intended to highlight the human side of volunteering, showing people that it is not only good for the community, but also for the individual.

Cambridge’s volunteers are a fine example of that human side.

The Cambridge Tree Trust, who had only about three or four volunteers when they started in 1992, now have about 60 on their books, with up to 25 regulars at their Thornton Rd nursery.  Tree Trust head Don Willoughby said everyone enjoys the social interaction, there’s a sense of pride in what they do, and on birthday months – June being a big one – there’s always extra delectables on offer at teatime.

Two of their ‘elder statesmen’ – Jim McKnight (89) and Mike Short (88) – thrive on it. They’ve graduated to “lighter duties” and have been there for donkey’s years, but neither can imagine spending that time in any other way.

Cambridge Citizens Advice Bureau head Richard Vaughan said that running their operation would be impossible without the 35 volunteers that help deliver an “invaluable service” to the Cambridge community. They handled over 5500 enquiries last year across a wide range of topics, and help run a JP clinic, a free legal clinic, and a booking service for the St John Health Shuttle service. “Our volunteers are our most valuable resource … they are the lifeblood of the bureau.”

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