As National Volunteers' week gets underway, an Anchor Hanover resident in Frome has been encouraging residents and members of his local community to explore the benefits of volunteering.
Having started his career in the army, Ian left the UK in the mid 80s to purse a career as a prison officer and raise his family abroad. Following his retirement in 2016, the 73–year-old started to miss his West Country roots and decided to return to Somerset, eventually ending up at an estate in Frome.
Whilst Ian was happy to be back in Somerset, his transition into retirement wasn’t an easy one - he felt somewhat isolated, after having spent over 40 years overseas. Then, after visiting one of his old childhood haunts, the Memorial Theatre in Frome, he started volunteering as a steward and was responsible for showing people to their seats. It proved to be a turning point.
Whilst working at the theatre, he learned that the local Barnardo's charity shop needed people to help, so Ian volunteered to work there for two days a week. He can also often be seen building planters and offering gardening tips at the Frome Men's Sheds initiative.
Ian said: “After my retirement I started to feel lonely and isolated. Thanks to pleas from my family, I returned to the UK and I am now getting to know nephews and nieces I never knew before. Since I started volunteering and helping others, I have also made dozens of new friends.”
When he is not working at the theatre or the charity shop, Ian actively volunteers to help his friends and neighbours. For the past year Ian and some other residents have helped with the estate garden, undertaken shopping for less able residents, walked neighbours' pets and generally been on hand to help.
Estate Manager Terry Burton said: “Since moving here Ian’s volunteering efforts have made a real difference to the lives of residents. His enthusiasm and spirit is encouraging others within the local community to help make Frome a fantastic place to live.”