In 2012, as part of her work at CVS, Fadahunsi was recruiting volunteer Games Makers for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. “That was when I decided I wanted to do something,” she says. “It involved a lot of juggling, but it was fun, and I enjoyed giving something back.” That experience inspired her to sign up for Team London’s schools’ programme, aimed at engaging youngsters in volunteering. She spends a few hours every fortnight at Saint Saviour’s Primary School in Herne Hill, south London, and the Ursuline High School in Wimbledon. “I’ve found it humbling that it was a five-year-old boy at Saint Saviour’s who persuaded the rest of his school to raise money for children in Syria. They raised £4,000, which, in such a small school, equates to £150 for every pupil.”
The same sustained engagement is seen in other short-listed individuals, such as Sharon Frankfurt from Barkingside in Essex, chief trainer at the Redbridge Dippers Swimming Club. It is the only facility for disabled people in the borough and for 30 years Sharon has been introducing people from four to 80 to the joys of swimming. Or Dr Nhara Krause, a clinical psychologist, who in her free time runs the charity STEM4, which she set up to raise awareness of mental health conditions in teenagers.
As part of The Telegraph’s Lend-a-Hand campaign, readers were asked for nominations for the paper’s own Volunteer of the Year award, to be presented at the Mayor’s ceremony. And you responded with gusto. A short-list of three has now been selected.
Twenty-eight-year-old Katie Metcalf was diagnosed with ME as a teenager. She was supported in meeting the challenge by the charity AYME and is now donating her time and knowledge to run their national volunteering programme. At St Ives Hockey Club near Cambridge, 54-year-old Kishor Shah is coach, umpire, fixture manager, and anything else that needs doing – in addition to a senior job in IT.
And Elizabeth Ewart, a 43-year-old mother of two from Wanborough in Wiltshire, is a mainstay of her community – helping out at the local school, an old people’s home, volunteering with the Samaritans and working with troubled teenagers.
All do what they do quietly, but all have been noticed by those whose lives they change. When they gather, with their families, at City Hall later this month to hear their achievements celebrated by Mayor Boris Johnson, they will prove once again that we really are a nation of volunteers.