Volunteers’ Week 2018: Thank You from The Royal British Legion

Taking place from the 1-7 June, Volunteers’ Week is a chance to say thank you for the fantastic contribution that millions of volunteers make across the UK and to celebrate volunteering in all its diversity.

Here at The Royal British Legion, we’re proud to have diverse and dedicated volunteers who give their time to do amazing work to ensure that we can continue to support the Armed Forces community.

Rosemary Powell

This week we shared Rosemary’s story of her 97 years as a Poppy Appeal collector. But you don’t have to have volunteered for 97 years with us to make a difference.  

Read Rosemary's story

Melanie Parker

Melanie Parker organises the Poppy Appeal in her local area in Bedfordshire and fundraises all year round for The Royal British Legion. She has been volunteering for ten years to support the Armed Forces community and has raised over £45,000 in the last four years alone.

Melanie recently received the British Empire Medal for her service to the community to The Royal British Legion and Girl Guiding. The award was presented by HM Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire on behalf of HM The Queen at the Honours Reception held at The Sculpture Gallery on Monday 5 March.

"Melanie recently received the British Empire Medal for her service to the community."

“Melanie Parker has been an absolute joy to work with. Melanie is one of the most hard working Poppy Appeal Organisers for the County of Bedfordshire, raising over £45,000 in the last four years for the Poppy Appeal. Melanie is very pleasant and courteous to all members of the public, volunteers and staff within The Royal British Legion. Melanie demonstrates the character and qualities that you look for in a Poppy Appeal Organiser. She has shown excellence in her ability to help in any situation in fundraising and has gone above and beyond of what is expected as a Poppy Appeal Organiser.”

Michael Lewis, Community Fundraiser Bedfordshire

Leslie Samm

Leslie Samm volunteers 3 days a week at Maurice House, one of The Royal British Legion’s residential dementia care homes in Broadstairs. He’s been volunteering for just over six months but is already a well known and loved character in the home - helping with Dance to Health sessions, organising theme days, making a lot of tea and providing companionship for residents.

“Leslie has made an enormous difference since he started volunteering with us and has befriended all the residents and staff here. He often brings in memorabilia and runs impromptu reminiscence sessions and helps with our weekly Dance to Health sessions. Leslie is also a great supporter of our theme days – taking on the role of St George, James Bond, Father Christmas and most recently, as a strong man in our talent competition. He’ll do anything to make people happy.

"It's the simple things that make a huge difference to people’s lives."

Leslie’s mother had dementia so he has a natural affinity with understanding of our residents and with that, boundless patience and enthusiasm. Leslie helps at evening events and trips too and is a great exponent of The Royal British Legion and the work we do. I cannot praise this man enough, he is an absolute joy, and we all miss him on the days he’s not here.”

Vanessa Culliford, Activities Assistant, Maurice Lodge

Sandie Coates

Sandie [pictured right] is a volunteer case worker in District Spain North and works with all age groups and referral types.

Sandie has undertaken many difficult and emotional cases during her time as a case worker and also assists with case work training sessions, mentoring new case workers and is in the process of setting up a case worker support group within her area.

"Sandie is always on hand to offer her support, demonstrating multifaceted skills, patience and empathy. "

As an example of her work Sandie has recently made a number of long journeys to visit an extremely vulnerable beneficiary of The Royal British Legion who had all his saving and pensions stolen and had no family or support nearby. Accessing statutory services in Spain is often difficult due to the language and culture differences so Statutory Services in Spain rely heavily on charities to help and support in these kinds of situations.

“Sandie is an advert for The Royal British Legion and it is a pleasure to work with her. She is clear in her role and has such a positive outlook, dealing with anything that comes her way. Sandie is taking Spanish classes three times a week which is part of her commitment to The Royal British Legion. Her enthusiasm is infectious and she always comes across as having a deep joy for life!”

Sian Sumners, Overseas Support Team Leader

Ron Jones

After being called up in September 1940, by way of an administration error, Ron was taken as a Prisoner of War in North Africa before being taken to part of the Auschwitz camp. He was eventually freed by the American Army and returned home to his late wife Gwladys in May 1945 weighing a mere 7.5 stone.

Ron remained silent about his experiences until he was in his eighties, when in his role as Vice President of Newport Football Club in 2013, he told his story to a sports journalist. This journalist convinced him write a book which was entitled “The Auschwitz Goalkeeper”. Ron is still very active in local schools and in the local community, and is known as “Uncle Ron”. He regularly gives talks on the work of The Royal British Legion and any donations go to the Poppy Appeal. As well as being a published author, Ron also has a film about him entitled “The Poppy Seller: The story of an Accidental Soldier”. 

"101 year old Ron still sells poppies at his local Tesco store and says that he will continue for as long as he is able."

“Ron is an inspiration to us all, his enthusiasm and smile certainly attract the public, this coupled with his willingness and openness to talk about his life and experiences certainly promotes the charity that helped him personally a long time ago. He never says no to a request to speak at events or assist with media interviews. He was 101 years old on 30 April and is still attending schools in the local area and chatting to children about his experiences. He is a wonderful ambassador and a delight to know it is a privilege to be able to call him a friend.”

Wendy McManus, Area Administrator Wales


Find out more about volunteering for The Royal British Legion and supporting the Armed Forces community.