A week of celebrating our fantastic volunteers

This week, we’ve been proud supporters of National Volunteer Week – an annual event that provides the chance to say thank you for the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK.

Here at Bernicia, there’s so many of our people who lend a helping hand to individuals, charities and other organisations from all over the region in their free time and we couldn’t be more proud of them all. Here’s some of the wonderful stories we’ve heard throughout the week.

Melanie Simmonds is an ICT Systems and Support Officer at Bernicia, but during the summer months she dons medieval garb as a cast member of the hugely popular Kynren outdoor show in County Durham which is organised by Eleven Arches.

As part of the cast and crew, Melanie appears on ‘stage’ (which is more like a seven-and-a-half-acre football pitch) in scenes covering Roman times, the Second World War, the Viking and Norman invasions, medieval feasts, the splendour of the Tudors, the Industrial Revolution and the Roaring Twenties.

Melanie said: “What made me decide to volunteer was that I went to see the show as part of their first season. The special effects bring the show to life and the sound track made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end…it still does. I knew then I HAD to be a part of this amazing show. I’ve now been a part of Kynren for its last three seasons.”

Bernicia’s Finance and Insurance Officer, Caroline Hodgson, started volunteering for the 2505 (Bishop Auckland) Royal Air Force Cadets after finding out about them at a career day at her son’s school and him then signing up to be part of their local Air Cadet Squadron.

What followed over the next few years saw Caroline start out as a Civ Comm Secretary before moving on to become a Civillian Instructor working more closely with the cadets and planning and managing expeditions.

Caroline said: “I am now the Squadron’s Adventure Training Officer and have gained four National Governing Body (NGB) recognised awards. Over the next two years I have the opportunity to gain an NGB teaching award, this can then lead to developing my hobby further afield and get more people out and experiencing what the great outdoors has to offer. I have a real passion for the Royal Air Force Air Cadets and get so much enjoyment and satisfaction being a volunteer.”

And last but certainly not least, we heard from our Estates Operative, Adam Hogg, who volunteers helping rebuild a famous Northumberland Railway.

Adam helps with all sorts of tasks ranging from helping maintain plant and machinery on the site, being the guard on a passenger train, driving the diesel locomotive on a passenger train and even recently recovered a guards van from a back garden which he intends to restore for use on passenger trains.

Adam said: “I decided to start volunteering at the Aln Valley Railway when I saw their stand and they said they were a new start heritage railway wanting to get the route between Alnwick and Alnmouth rebuilt. I had never been involved in building a railway from nothing and thought it may be interesting – how right I was! I have volunteered for just over eight years now and I’m there nearly every weekend for about eight hours, whenever I have holidays and even go up for a few hours after work too.”