Kind-hearted John Skoyles is committed to doing his bit for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices – and says a child’s smile or parent’s thank you is worth more than any salary.
The 68-year-old is a much valued and respected EACH volunteer, who first got involved in October 2018.
Since then, he has helped in numerous ways, including representing EACH at events like the Suffolk Show, the Ipswich Regent pantomime, family fun days, vintage car shows and the Whole Hog race, near Woodbridge.
He pitches in with bucket collections and is heavily involved with EACH’s Help at Home service, which involves going into a family’s home and supporting them with practical tasks such as gardening, cleaning, decorating and general maintenance.
The release of John’s story coincides with the midway point in EACH’s fortnight-long campaign to recruit more fundraising volunteers. The drive to boost numbers is called #WeNeedYou – Be the difference, be an EACH Champion.
“I volunteer because I know the tremendous difference EACH make to families at the most challenging time of their lives,” said John, who was born and bred in Scotland but now lives in Ipswich.
“I initially got involved with the Help at Home service.
“Then I started helping with fundraising and promoting the charity, mainly due to my background in sales and marketing for a major blue chip company.
“It’s hard to say what my favourite volunteer role is.
“However, fundraising is probably where I’m of most help and use, because of my background.
“I was a national account manager before retiring and my role involved doing presentations.
“I still use those skills now, talking to people about the fantastic work EACH does.
“There are lots of opportunities to talk to organisations and potential sponsors, which I thoroughly enjoy.
“Overall, I just love being involved.
“Just one child’s smile or a parent’s thank you makes such a difference and is worth more than any salary I could or did earn.
“We can’t make the children better or even understand what families are going through.
“However, we can travel part of the journey alongside them and do whatever we can to help.”
John has been walking a family’s dog twice a week for the last year, giving them more time for their child and hospital appointments.
Other tasks on his busy roster include driving a minibus, taking children to and from The Treehouse, in Ipswich, and travelling to Keech hospice, in Luton, collecting personal protective equipment (PPE).
He then delivers it to staff at The Treehouse and EACH’s other hospices at Milton, near Cambridge, and The Nook, just outside Norwich.
“Although the latter role has changed a bit recently, I’m still acting as a courier for anything requiring delivery between sites, including equipment,” said John, who first became aware of EACH after spotting an advert in his local newspaper while waiting for a Chinese takeaway. He had previously been volunteering for British Red Cross, since just after his 60th birthday.
“Many others have been volunteering a lot longer than me but to anyone thinking of getting involved, my message would be to give whatever time you can spare to help in whatever role suits you.
“Believe me – you’ll get far more out of volunteering than you put in and you’ll be making a real difference.
“I started when I retired but you don’t have to wait until then.
“There’s no such thing as being ‘just a volunteer’, either. Everyone counts and plays their part.
“Bucket collections are another great example and a big part of what we do, as volunteers.
“They raise money while also increasing EACH’s profile.
“Securing raffle prizes for functions is another role which helps raise money and I’ve also done a few fundraising events of my own, like a sponsored zip-slide at Ipswich Town Football Club in February 2019.
“I always said that if I was fit and able, I’d put something back when retired.
“In terms of local charities, EACH was a clear choice because of the amazing work they do helping families with very sick children in our community.”
EACH is on the lookout for additional people to lend a hand and support its various fundraising activities.
This could be at its own events or those organised by a third party, corporate and community speaking or bucket and pot collections.
Anyone interested in getting involved can contact EACH Volunteer Services via 01223 205183.
Alternatively, email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about our campaign, head here.