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Volunteer Spotlight - North Devon Group

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Lyn Hill and Rose Lester

“Volunteering is very worthwhile. It can give you a great deal of pleasure, company and companionship, while doing a lot of good. I started volunteering as a thank you for all that I have received in the way of care and treatment.” - Lyn Hill, Chair of the North Devon Group

Meet our Volunteer Spotlight for September 2019 - the North Devon Group

Lyn Hill is the Chair of our North Devon Group. She first joined the group back in 2006. 

Where it all began – getting involved with the group

“I’ve had Type 1 diabetes since 1967. I originally volunteered with the British Diabetic Association as it was known then, in Birmingham in the early 1970s. I sold Christmas cards. That was my first go at volunteering. I then left the UK for 32 years when we moved to Zambia and South Africa for my husband’s work.”

Lyn’s husband sadly passed away 2005 and it was then that she moved to Devon. In late 2006, Lyn heard about the North Devon group when she became a member of Diabetes UK.

“I remember the early days very much. The group were my saving grace. I didn’t know a soul in Devon and they were so kind to me. I was admitted to hospital for an operation and everyday someone from the group would visit me, even over Easter.”

As Chair of the group, Lyn is the main contact for any enquiries and works closely with the local South West volunteering team. She is a volunteer speaker and gives talks in the local community. She has canvassed various groups to ask if she can speak to them. Other tasks include organising awareness and collection days and ordering leaflets for the group to give out at events.

“We have recently worked closely with the North Devon Healthcare team and provided awareness days all over North Devon. The turnout has been wonderful and we have helped hundreds of people.”

The group’s activities

Rose Lester, one of the founders of the group, organises two monthly events. The first is a coffee morning on first Monday of every month which is held the local garden centre.

“Living with diabetes can make you feel lonely and isolated at times. The coffee morning gives people an outing. It’s a chance to talk about diabetes, but also anything else they want to talk about. Being part of the group offers friendship and support. We regularly have about twenty-five people go along to the coffee morning.”

Then, on the third Monday morning of the month, there is more of a formal meeting, usually with a speaker. Often the talks are health related and speakers can vary from dietitians, diabetes specialist nurses and podiatrists. Rose works very hard to find interesting speakers.

The group also hold a table tennis club at a local indoor tennis centre to encourage people to get active, whatever the weather!

There are plenty of other events and activities on the calendar such as group walks, tenpin bowling and skittle evenings. The group organises an anniversary trip each year to celebrate the birthday of the group forming fifteen years ago. This year they went to the Tiverton Canal which features one of the last remaining horse drawn barges in the UK.

The group recently went on a tractor and trailer ride organised by the National Trust at Mortehoe Point and lighthouse. They do the tractor ride most years over the school holidays, and try to spot the dolphins!

One of the events that the group look forward the most is their annual Turkey and Tinsel break. They go on a four day trip at the end of the year where they celebrate Christmas and the New Year early. This year, the group are planning to stay in Cromer. They’re going to see the Thursford Christmas spectacular and also visit local places of interest including Norwich.

All of the activities that the group run require a great deal of organising. It’s mostly done by a nine volunteer strong committee. Lyn and the committee meet four times a year and share in organising the groups many activities.

Highlights and achievements

“I’m proud that an average of fifty or more people attend our meetings. We’re a worthwhile asset to the community. Rose received an Inspire Award in May for her dedication in supporting others.”

The group have also received an award from North Devon Voluntary Services for their service to the community.

Thousands of pounds have been raised by the group towards diabetes research. Lyn and Rose were invited to go to Exeter University to see one of the research projects first hand, an experience they greatly enjoyed.

What’s next for the group?

“More of the same! We’re holding more collections and awareness days and planning our next events and activities. The group just keeps evolving really, it’s amazing.”

If you’ve been inspired by Lyn and the North Devon Group, find out how you can get involved.

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