My first experience of volunteering - I seemed to just fall into it without really realising. I was helping out for Riding for the Disabled - a well-established charity that provides therapy utilising horses and ponies to help people with disabilities all over the UK. Combining my passion of horse riding, teaching and therapy this was the perfect match for me. The sense of wellbeing created when seeing children and adults of all ages experience the freedom of riding and the connection with horses was amazing and rewarding, not to mention great fun. Many of the children were wheelchair users and the sense of movement without restriction was amazing to watch. To see their joy of this experience and bonding with the horses was huge.
My next experience of volunteering was when I was extremely privileged to be selected to volunteer as a Physiotherapist at the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games. My role in the Olympics was to provide physiotherapy in the Olympic Village Medical Centre alongside all other volunteers from sport medicine doctors to dentists. I had the opportunity to treat competitors from all over the world, from the Jamaica relay team to competitors from countries I had never heard of. Making a difference and offering my skills gave me such a buzz.
At the Paralympics I was trackside in the Olympic stadium again providing physio in the warm up area and as medical support trackside, right at the finish line. I loved supporting the Para Olympian’s, to hear their journeys of overcoming adversity to become professional athletes at the pinnacle of their sport. The team I volunteered alongside where amazing and I learnt lots of new skills and there was a great atmosphere to support shared learning.
During this time I meet lots of people from all over the world and learnt lots about new cultures, religion and different ways of life. I felt honoured to have the opportunity to be part of someone’s journey where many of the athletes I worked with were so grateful for even the smallest advice, which made a big difference to them.
Following my volunteering at the Paralympic Games I made connections and since have been volunteering for with the Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby team playing the sport also known as “murder ball”. For the past 6 years I have supported them by offering my physiotherapy skills at training camps and by mucking in with all jobs required working with a team. It’s so great to work as part of team all working towards the same goals and to be part of something bigger. I thoroughly enjoy my time spent with the team and gain lots of personal satisfaction as a direct result.
Helping others kindles happiness. Even helping out with the smallest tasks can make a real difference to the lives of others and yourself. Dedicating time as a volunteer, I have made new lifelong friendships, expanded my network, and gained new skills and confidence.