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When our Charity started providing support to clients in 1990, Janet joined our Volunteer Team a year later and has been contributing her time and supporting Beechwood ever since.
Here, Janet shares her story and experiences with Beechwood over the past 30 years.
My introduction to Beechwood began when I attended a social function and met someone who was selling small teddy bears for the Charity. As both my parents had been diagnosed with cancer, I was very interested in finding out more about Beechwood.
In January 1991, I attended my first Volunteers meeting and immediately enjoyed the experience and decided to join the group of Volunteers. We met at the Centre on the first Monday of every month at 7pm. At this time, the Clients stayed at Beechwood 5 days a week in rooms upstairs which later changed to day appointments. The Volunteers Group then became The Time and Talent Group with the same regular monthly meetings to discuss all aspects of helping Beechwood.
People can volunteer for different roles within the Charity, mine was to concentrate on fundraising. This included bag packing at supermarkets, collections at Santa’s Sleigh, fashion shows, fayres at the Centre, outside events and giving talks at various institutions who were donating to Beechwood.
In 1999, my husband Mike became part of the Fundraising Team and used his talent for singing to raise funds. His SHAWFIRE band includes our sons Jon and Chris and together, with Mike’s many solo performances, they have raised thousands of pounds for Beechwood. These events also gave me the opportunity to speak to the audience and make them aware of the services the Charity had to offer.
Fundraising was so important especially when Beechwood was struggling financially which led the Volunteer Team to form the S.O.B Group (Save Our Beechwood). Fortunately, this crisis passed, and the Centre was able to continue supporting clients whilst also buying the premises.
In 2015 the Volunteer Team were recognised when we were awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services.
There have been many changes at Beechwood over the years. The foyer has been reconstructed and many areas refurbished. The building has grown with two extensions which has provided valuable extra space helping clients and their families. There has also been changes in staff, volunteers and the shops, but the ethos of Beechwood has never changed; the most important part has always been to care for the clients on every level of their need.
I became a volunteer at Beechwood because I wanted to raise not only funds but also awareness of the wonderful work done at the Charity. I hope this will continue and thrive for many years to come.