Groups across Test Valley joined Unity for their Annual General Meeting, Volunteer Awards and Conference which were held at the Grosvenor Hotel, Stockbridge this year. A lively day with 65 people representing over 42 groups joined the event to hear NHS West Hampshire Clinical Commission Group’s Samantha Roussos speaking about the importance of working together to provide health interventions to help take pressure off overstretched services. Other speakers included Sam Otter, a Unity Volunteer Driver who gave a fun talk about why he became a volunteer driver and how these services are so important to local people. A really positive message which was well received. The Test Valley Mayor, Cllr. Ian Carr and his consort Mrs. Carr, who helped to present the Volunteer of the Year Awards in the afternoon heard about the work of just a few of the volunteers and the groups who make such a significant contribution to the local community and to those who need it the most. The Awards were presented by our Trustee, David Harber and were in three categories: The Unsung Hero Award sponsored by Abbotswood Court – Cinnamon Care Collection won this year by James Ropner who volunteers with Inclusion services providing a friendly smile, cup of tea on the go, empathy to those who are suffering and the occasional gardening project! The Team of the Year sponsored by Dawn Elson won by the Andover Allotment Volunteers who provide hours of therapeutic Interventions for service users and their families. This pioneering project has been in place for over 2 years and this year supplied Inclusion service users and staff with endless bags of mixed green salad leaves and herbs. As a result of the allotment’s success other allotments are now being considered. Finally, the Volunteer of the Year Award once again sponsored by Ansvar Insurance won by Derek Johnson from the BOAZ Project. Derek has been a volunteer for over 7 years twice for two days a week. He works tirelessly on the project which helps adults with learning disabilities. The project takes place in a farm setting and involves a lot of physical activity. Without his reliable assistance this work based service would not exist.
by Ken Tymms