09/01/2017 11:27 GMT | Updated 10/01/2018 05:12 GMT

Dear Volunteers Everywhere, Thank You For All That You Do

It's one thing to head out on a wet Sunday morning in January to run your first 10k race of the year - with lots of hills.

It's quite another to head out even earlier to put up signs and then stand in an oversized high vis jacket on one of those hills just to make sure each and every runner finds their way.

As I reflect back on my rather laboured performance on this challenging course - my first course in 8 months due to injury - I think not of the hill that wanted to take out my lungs or the 6km point (which I was convinced was 7km), but of the selfless people standing in rain doing their bit.

Because of those soggy high vis jackets and wet hair, I conquered a 'back-from-injury' demon today.

And, for that, I will be eternally grateful.


Photo: Jackie Scully

These volunteers, however, didn't just stand there dripping. They clapped. They smiled. They looked concerned. They offered encouragement. They were kind. And, they gave me the confidence to believe that maybe, just maybe, I could call myself a runner once more.


Photo: Jackie Scully

There is so much beauty in volunteering. All the people I know and love do their bit. And, I am convinced that if we were all inspired to volunteer from a younger age, the world would be a much more compassionate place.

Volunteers make things possible. Volunteers give of themselves so that someone else might have reason to smile. Volunteers bring new perspectives and bring hope.

A world where the currency is kindness, is a world I long to see.

And volunteers are everywhere. They're clearing community land. They're writing letters to their MPs. They're handing out leaflets in the rain or food parcels. They're pushing their bodies to limits they never knew would be possible in the name of charity. They're making sure underprivileged children have the chance to enjoy a day out. They're baking a cake or reading to someone no longer able to read to themselves. They're spreading smiles wherever they go.

This year, prompted by a rather unusual wedding plan, I have vowed to #makeitmeaningful. That doesn't just mean raising money and awareness. It's about giving a bit of myself to the people or causes that matter to me. It's about offering my professional skills so that others might be able to achieve their dreams. It's about doing something every day - however little - that I'd be glad to see written on my gravestone.

So to volunteers everywhere, I thank you. I thank you for the early mornings and the soaked clothes. I thank you for your energy, your time and your commitment. I thank you for your kindness and your willingness to help.

And, I thank you for the opportunities you offer others and the gifts you share every day just by existing.

I thank you because this world needs you. Together, we can make it a better place.

And, if you're reading this thinking you want to give it a go (volunteering not a marathon running wedding with you), I invite you to join me this year and #makeitmeaningful.