My Volunteering – John Ormsby
1 June 2018
My first excursion into volunteering came in 1982 when Graeme High School decided to create a PTA.
I went along to the meeting and found myself on a steering committee to set up a constitution. We delivered and I served on the committee until 1986. It was not strenuous and I realise now that it was a great diversion from my “normal” work. I was an electrical engineer in one of the highest regulated industries in the country. Day to day I had to grapple with the Factories Act, the Electricity Supply Regulations, the IEE Regulations, the Public Utilities Street Work Act (PUSWA) and a stream of BS specs. On top of that was our own 70 page book of Safety Rules. Joining the PTA gave me another outlet for my skills and something new to think about. I enjoy challenges, new ways of thinking and learning.
When my term in office came to an end, meaning I had to step down, I realised I would require another diversion. My wife got me involved with Age Concern in 1986 and I served with them until 2000. I ran trips, organising coach tours and similar things, I still do bits for them, tickets and flyers to help promote events or fundraise.
At the same time as joining Age Concern, I showed an interest in taking up local politics. A friend gave me some great advice, he said that I should not waste my time on something that would achieve very little and talked me into joining the Children’s Hearing System. I did and again served until 2000. These are all still diversions from day to day life.
I retired in 1996 and took up two new adventures; one was teaching numeracy skills which lasted until 1999. The other was volunteering with the Seagull Trust which lasted until 2017. I was sailing the boats and sharing the responsibilities with another pilot. I would sail one way and he would sail back. As my eyesight began to deteriorate it got more and more difficult to continue so I stepped back from steering the boats to crewing the vessels instead. Thanks to my previous experience, everyone was aware of what I could and couldn’t do and I was delighted to carry on helping for many years.
Having sight and now hearing loss, I became increasingly involved with Forth Valley Sensory Centre. I started volunteering there in 2007, some 11 years ago and in that time have worked with the various partners in the building, from RNIB Scotland to NHS Forth Valley. I regularly take on talks to school children and attend events on behalf of the Centre, using my own experience of sensory loss to engage with different groups of people. I welcome patients to the eye clinic on behalf of NHS Forth Valley, helping allay fears and give practical advice where needed.
I am currently volunteering with Action on Hearing Loss too. Manning the resource area on a Wednesday morning and guiding people through the various bits of technology on offer. I also provide tours of the Centre for student nurses and other interested parties.
So until 1996 my volunteering was primarily done as a diversion from my regulated life. When I retired I had no plans to spend my time on the golf course or such so you could say I had been well and truly bitten by the “volunteering bug” and was now an integral part of my life.
Since I began volunteering at the Forth Valley Sensory Centre, I keep a record, as much as I can of the hours I put in. I was amazed to realise recently I have given over 4000 hours of volunteer service. The Centre contacted the local Provost who presented me with a ‘Falkirk Heroes’ medal, a proud moment and Action on Hearing Loss have also given me a top award for my contribution.
My late wife, Jean, was a volunteer herself and supported me in my adventures. Since losing her in December 2013 being involved with the various charities has help me cope with the situation. I would urge anyone to get bitten by the ‘volunteering bug’. It is a hugely rewarding experience.