Reflecting On The Value Of Volunteers

This morning, I shared pictures on our Facebook group, capturing moments of our dedicated volunteers in action – Karl uncovering a fallen headstone buried under inches of leaf mold, and Carole, James, and Karl searching for a specific headstone to add to the online records. It prompted me to contemplate the significant contributions volunteers make, not only to our cemetery work but across the broader charity sector.

Let’s begin with a fundamental definition:

Volunteer:

  1. A person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task.
  2. A person who works for an organization without being paid.

While these definitions may not be surprising, the essence of volunteers extends beyond their invaluable time and commitment. As I observed our volunteers from a distance whilst engaged in a bit of litter picking, I realized that their impact goes beyond their dedicated hours. Here are just a few of the skills and talents our volunteers bring to the table:

  • Project management
  • IT expertise (we may be the only cemetery in England with a Google map showing every single grave).
  • Family history research (they are like family history detectives in their tenacity)
  • Time management
  • Organisational skills
  • Website creation and maintenance
  • Financial management/bookkeeping
  • Nature and wildlife knowledge
  • Garden tool maintenance skills
  • Tree damage expertise (the dist council do the big tree work, but we do get stuck into cutting back trees damaged by gale force winds).
  • Public speaking (by zoom, in person for local clubs and walk and talks)
  • Local family history knowledge
  • Gravestone cleaning skills
  • Military history buffs
  • Litter picking (ok, not a skill as such, but you have to be fairly fleet of foot not to fall down a rabbit hole)

This list is by no means exhaustive, as our volunteers bring a diverse array of talents. Equally important are those who join us on Saturday mornings purely to encourage us in our work (sometimes with cake).

As I know from reading comments on social media, emails and messages from local families and from families across the world who can no longer visit the cemetery themselves – our Volunteers contributions are immeasurable and deeply appreciated.

pic 1} A lovely Christmas wreath created by one of our Volunteers neighbours (Thank You), pic 2) Karl scraping away inches of leaf mold to uncover a hidden fallen gravestone (one to research later) and pic 3) Carole, James and Karl on the trail of another family gravestone to add to known family history on findagrave.com

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