Her friend, Bridie, got the job and persuaded Sue to volunteer for the charity. Really, she was pushing at an open door.
“I’ve never regretted it,” Sue said. “You don’t want to sit at home twiddling your thumbs. I’ve always volunteered – running Brownie and Guide packs and a local youth club – it’s a good and productive use of time.”
Sue has helped out at the Minchinhampton checkpoint for our flagship Five Valleys Walk since then, only missing a couple of walks along the way. And, since she went part-time with her accountancy job in nearby Stonehouse seven years ago, she has come into our head office in Stroud every Monday between 9 and 1, making herself useful and doing whatever she can to help.
This largely involves working with her friend Caroline to make up our pack orders – putting together the materials that people taking part in our events or volunteering for us around the country have requested to support their endeavours. These are straightforward but vital tasks – sorting and counting balloons for example, counting money, collating leaflets.
There is some computer work too, but Sue prefers not to do this. “It’s what I do in my day job and it’s bliss to get away from it from time to time – the joy of my volunteering is that it’s such a change from my paid work.
“There’s absolutely no stress; you do what you can and you don’t worry if you run out of time to finish something – someone else will be along to pick up where you left off. They’re a great bunch of people and a lovely group of friends.”
“I love being involved in the Five Valleys Walk but I’ve also been along to a number of other events, including cheering our runners on at the London Marathon and helping out at our Family Days in Cardiff and Gloucester – these are great fun.”
Feeling of fulfilment
“I just get so much out of it, a real feeling of fulfilment and feeling good about myself. And after all, what’s four hours in a week?”
This feeling is reciprocated. Sue recalls a visit by our Royal Patron, the Countess of Wessex for our 25th anniversary five years ago. “We were lined up to meet her and as she approached we overheard her say ‘Now we get to meet the real people’. That makes you feel so proud and that what you’re doing is really worthwhile.”
Because Sue worked in the Stroud area she was aware of the original outbreak that led to the formation of Meningitis Now. “It’s a very different organisation now to what it was in the early days,” Sue said. “The biggest change I’ve noticed over this time is all the vaccines that are now available. There’s so much more awareness and support generally than there used to be and that’s a big feather in the charity’s cap.”
Sue’s contribution is certainly appreciated by our volunteering co-ordinator Tammy Williams. She said: “Sue has been a volunteer with Meningitis Now from my first day here. The help and support she gives us is amazing and her dedication is outstanding – we know we’re lucky to have her.”
Sue’s top tip
Counting the money from collection tins has opened Sue’s eyes to how individually small amounts of money accumulate into significant sums. When she collects the subs - £4.95 – from her Slimming World membership each week she puts one of our tins on the table to collect the 5p change as donations – over the weeks and months it soon mounts up!