A 97 year old Harrogate man has been bestowed the prestigious Royal Voluntary Service’s Diamond Champion award in recognition for his volunteering work. John Shannon was just one of 12 Diamond Champions, from a total of 60 title holders across the country, recently invited to attend the awards ceremony at Lancaster House, London to celebrate the role of older volunteers in society. There he was presented with a specially designed diamond pin by the President of the Royal Voluntary Service, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, and its ambassador, Phillip Schofield.
The Diamond Champions were selected by an independent panel of judges for the contribution they play to people’s lives through their volunteering. A spokesman for the Royal Voluntary Service described them as: “the hidden gems in our community who have often been volunteering for many years”. Having been volunteering for 80 years, John is a model example of this. He began his volunteering at the age of 17 and just some of his roles include leading a prison visiting scheme in the 1930s at Winchester Prison and chairman of the Girls Nautical Training Corps. He has been a dedicated Rotarian, a Red Cross examiner and was an active member of his local church in Birstwith.
Despite being a nonagenarian, John continues to be a very busy volunteer and currently offers his time locally for Supporting Older People, Age UK and Carers’ Time Off. He became a volunteer for Carers’ Time Off following the death of his wife, Eileen, in 2008. During her illness, she had been supported by volunteers from the charity who gave him the opportunity to take a break from his full-time caring commitments. Christine Boxall, Service Coordinator from Carers’ Time Off, who nominated John for the award, said: ”John is a great example of a volunteer using his own experiences to make a difference to the people he supports. He is reliable, committed and dedicated to helping others and extremely good company.” John also keeps up-to-date with technology, Christine added: “He is also one of the few older people I know who has, and uses, an iPad.”
John’s work in Harrogate has been covered recently in the Daily Express and his work was also recognised at the Harrogate Volunteer Oscars in 2013 where he picked up the Care Volunteer of the Year Award. In spite of his accolades, John remains very modest about his achievements. He commented: “Although my involvement has been over a long time, none of my duties have been onerous. I stand in awe of what some people do. I don’t regard my volunteering work as anything special, but as long as I can get around, I’ll carry on!”
Anyone interested in finding out more about volunteering for Carers’ Time Off should contact Christine Boxall or Anna Woollven on 01423 813094 or [email protected]