When I retired eleven years ago, I was excited at the prospect of doing whatever I wanted every day. However, after a couple of years of retirement I was ready for a change. I wanted to do something different and exciting.
I saw an advert in the local paper for a group called RSVP. I trotted along for an interview and was amazed at the volunteering opportunities available in the Stirling area. I opted for school volunteering. One good thing about being a volunteer is that you don’t have to have a recognised qualification. You are there to share life experiences and work within an area you, the teacher and the children are comfortable with. I soon found out I had one of the most prized qualifications – years of watching Blue Peter with my daughter. You would not believe what I could do with some sticky-back plastic and the inside of a toilet roll.
When I began at Thornhill Primary School in Stirling, I was asked to take the P6/7 girls for some aerobic exercise over the lunch break. I attended many aerobic classes in the past, but not as a teacher. However, undaunted, I put the music on and started moving – it was a great success. Since then I have helped the children with their maths and English, taught them how to do an Indian head massage and Tai Chi. We also went on trips to Loch Tay and a chocolate factory! This is only a small selection of the many great things I have done at Thornhill.
The really good thing about volunteering is that you do hours that suit you; you can take holidays during term and move around the school until you find a class which suits your strengths. You’ll feel that you’ve made a worthwhile contribution within the school and as a volunteer you can offer as much of your time and yourself as you want.
Having been in school for so long I have taken on the role of sympathetic listener. Although the children are only little, they have worries about estranged parents, family bereavement or relationship problems. At eight years old it is difficult if your boyfriend of one day ‘dumps’ you during the morning break. Now that I look back on the past 11 years, I find I have so many stories to tell. I will really miss volunteering when I step down this year.