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Volunteers' tea party

Councillor Nancy Warne, Cabinet Member for Communities and Deputy Leader hosted a tea party at the Assembly Hall Theatre on Sunday 10 September for the council to say thank you to local charities and their volunteers.

Over 57 charities were represented and those present were treated to a delicious afternoon tea from local caterers Tuck In, and entertainment provided by This is Us dance company, Royal Tunbridge Wells Orpheus Male Voice Choir and Lucy Andrini, an Egyptian style belly dancer. Deputy Mayor Councillor Nicholas Pope, together with other members of the council’s Cabinet gave out certificates and enamel Thank You badges as a keepsake – a wonderful afternoon was had by all.

Dawn Stanford BEM, Operations Director for Nourish Community Foodbank, gave the keynote speech to nearly 100 people in attendance. With over 20 years of helping people in crisis and caring for people for whom life has dealt them a blow, she is a true inspiration to all for the work she does.

Dawn Stanford said:

It was an afternoon to celebrate all that is good in our community and those unsung heroes that are the heart and soul of so many organisations. Running an organisation that supports some of the most vulnerable clients I know all too well the value volunteering has, I would not be able to do my job without my wonderful and dedicated army of volunteers behind me, they really are the beating heart of Nourish and I am thankful for each and every one of them.

Councillor Warne spoke about the value of volunteering and how personally it offered her the opportunity to meet new friends, develop new skills and confidence, take a new career path, and most importantly become a much happier person. She spoke movingly to the volunteers about her experience:

The more I became involved, the more questions I asked and the more I found out, I began to understand and appreciate how much our society depends on the caring and kind-heartedness of volunteers and how valuable this work is in improving the lives of others.

I know you’re probably not looking for recognition, and that’s not the reason why we step forward, but at this moment I feel it is very important for me to just say on behalf of the council, a huge thank you to you all for the valuable work you do.

She went on to outline in incredible work undertaken by volunteers in the borough on a daily basis, from supporting the vulnerable, elderly, and isolated, to improving mental health and wellbeing, to improving local services in rural areas.

The Amelia Scott’s Arts, Heritage and Engagement Director Jeremy Kimmel outlined the importance of volunteers to the cultural sector and called for more support:

Volunteers are crucial to what we do – the cultural sector cannot function without their hard work and dedication. But volunteering also provides immense health benefits both physically and mentally – and it’s time to see this shouted from the mountain tops – and acknowledged as a valuable contribution to our communities and our economy.

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