HASSRA Wales's Wendy Longman, former HASSRA Volunteer of the Year tells us what she does, and why.

I’ve been a member of HASSRA for a number of years and previously a club sponsor. When the Newport club lost many of its volunteers, activities and events stopped.  I decided to take on a more active role and with the four remaining volunteers (Jacque, Rob, Helen & Gareth) we set a plan for reviving the club. I was very inexperienced, had never been part of a club or committee before so I sought help from Mandy Howells (Chair, HASSRA Wales) and Di Grossey (Vice-Chair, HASSRA South West). I had a lot to learn and was very grateful of their guidance.

First thing we did was relaunch the club on our sites by promoting membership and rewards. We got everyone talking again about the benefits of being a HASSRA member. We tentatively arranged our AGM knowing that it was make or break for the club if we couldn’t form a committee. We were overwhelmed by the response, formed a full committee and gained around 12 new volunteer reps! I became Club Secretary.

With more volunteers involved and contributing, we were able to once again run events. We arranged and supported fundraisers, promoted HASSRA Live, used comms to talk about offers and discounts, took part in a plastic clean-up operation, and arranged trips. We had a massive success with our Festive HASSRA Raffle which helped raise moral across the sites and united colleagues in our three areas of work.

In March 2020 I was thrilled to find out about my nomination for the award. Very disappointed when the AGM and award ceremony in Cardiff was cancelled due to the pandemic then to be honest it went out of my mind what with everything else going on! I was so pleased to find out months later that I’d won the Regional Volunteer Award.

My manager, Adele, arranged a Skype call for all our staff and it was on that call that Mandy joined us to break the news that I’d won the National Volunteer award. I was so shocked, everyone on the call was sending me messages of congratulations and clapping. It was very emotional, lots of tears from me. I had a lovely bouquet of flowers and later received my gorgeous award plaque through the post which now has pride of place on my desk.

Taking a leading role in the club has given me lots of experience and I’ve gained many new skills. The greatest reward has been seeing the club survive and now thrive because it means so much to so many on our sites. I couldn’t have done it alone. I’d like to thank our Newport Club Committee (new and old), our volunteer reps, the people on the Wales HASSRA team who supported me and finally the very hardworking HASSRA members of the Newport club.