Congratulations to our Volunteer Awards winners of 2022!

Nominations for the Volunteer Awards 2022 came through thick and fast, from across England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, in a variety of areas in volunteering. It was a true reflection of the talent and diversity in the Parkinson’s UK volunteer community. 

Hear from this a few of this year's Volunteer Awards winners.

Say hello to Jon...

Jon is based in South-East England. His father was had Parkinson’s. The support he got from Parkinson’s UK was vital and Jon wanted to give something back. 

Jon's a keen photographer, so when a film and photography volunteer role came up he went for it and never looked back!  

Jon says:

“I started volunteering with Parkinson’s UK about 6 years ago. I’ve always had an interest in photography and as my father had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson's this was the perfect volunteering role for me.

"I’ve photographed numerous Walk for Parkinson’s events and a couple of abseil challenges at Guildford Cathedral. Some of the photographs that I’ve taken have featured in local press releases, on social media or been used by Parkinson’s UK to promote future events. When this happens, it is really rewarding as it does feel like I am playing my small part in supporting the charity.

"I think people taking part in a event like to have a photographic record of the day, whether that’s a member of staff, a volunteer or a participant. Sometimes photographs can capture memories that are unlikely to be repeated. My photography has included 4 generations of the same family united to Walk for Parkinson’s and people who overcome their Parkinson’s or other physical disabilities to take part.  

"I have photographed faces showing complete fear at the start of an abseil to complete elation at the end. Bringing people together to capture these moments is particularly satisfying.

"Winning a volunteer award was totally unexpected. To be recognised by a charity that helped my father is a proud moment for me. All of the events that I’ve attended have been enjoyable and I’ve met some fantastic people. This award is the icing on the cake.”

Introducing the Newport branch...

Every Parkinson’s UK volunteer has their own personal experience of what inspired them to start volunteering, just like the members of one of the award winning volunteer teams.

John M, Bettyann, Keith, John G, Joyce, David, Penny and Mo were nominated and successfully won a team award for making a difference in the Parkinson’s community in Newport, Wales. 

The team says: 

“Each of us has a different main reason for being involved or for feeling proud. One person was inspired by a previous branch secretary who had Parkinson’s, they were spurred on and became involved. 

“Some of us have got involved because we have partners with Parkinson’s and feel we have the energy and skills to help the branch in different ways. Others have Parkinson’s themselves and feel it helps them raise awareness of the varied experiences of living with the condition.

“One volunteer started the cafe meetings having seen success in a neighbouring city. Now another volunteer has taken over the reins and it is going strong!

“Each month we try to book a speaker or some sort of activity to entertain or inform (sometimes both!) the members who attend our main branch support meeting. We also have a café meeting in a local Library where people meet in a relaxed atmosphere, with others who have Parkinson's. 

“The local group members can share experiences or just chat about life, the universe and everything over tea, coffee and cake.

“In June, we take members on a day coach trip. Last year we had a very tasty afternoon tea at Chepstow Garden Centre. In November each year, we hold our branch Christmas lunch in a local restaurant.

"We would also like to give a special mention and thanks to our nominator Julie, and to David P. Both have also given incredible support to the Branch and collaborated with us, Julie, as a fellow Parkinson’s UK volunteer role and David, as a member of the local Parkinson’s community. 

"The Parkinson’s UK Wales Newport Branch feel honoured to have been chosen for a team volunteer award. We think we’re doing what feels natural and helpful for our Branch members but it’s good to be acknowledged for what we do to help our friends with Parkinson's.”  

Meet John...

Striving for inclusion and being representative in the Parkinson’s community are 2 very important things for Parkinson’s UK. Volunteer award winner John McFarland has played a huge part supporting the Parkinson’s community in Omagh, Northern Ireland, through his Branch Chair and Branch Membership Secretary roles.

From raising awareness of Parkinson’s in the LGBTQ+ community during Pride month, to developing ways to reach out to more rural communities! 

John says: 

“I'm very humbled to win a Volunteer Award. It's not something you ever expect or seek. 

“My involvement with Parkinson's UK first started when my partner, also called John, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 26 years ago. As time progressed, we got our heads around the situation, along with others, we felt there was an urgent need for a branch in our local area. In 2000, we set up our local branch and we have gone from strength to strength. John and I have been volunteering ever since!

“During Pride month, I felt it was an opportunity to show that the same pressures, pleasures, enjoyment and problems of life are experienced by all irrespective of creed, culture, race, religion or sexual orientation. I felt it was important to show that there is more that unites us all than divide us.

“I feel reaching out to rural communities is a vital aspect of my role. People in these areas often feel neglected and isolated. People who don’t live in such communities may not have that insight into the issues associated with it. The role in our group is one of inclusiveness for all, and knowing how welcome people feel as a result is priceless.

“It's wonderful to receive an award for something you actually take pleasure in and is never a chore. So thanks to all who considered me.”