Around 80 representatives of voluntary groups within Sedgefield attended ‘A Celebration of Sedgefield Volunteers’ in the Manor House on 17 December. The event, organised by Sedgefield Village Games, was in recognition of the work that residents of the village do for their community. Sedgefield Town Council and the Co-operative sponsored the celebration, ensuring everyone could enjoy a glass of wine and some festive food. There was festive music from Lirica and SLYC, and speeches given by Chris Lines, who organised the event, and Hayley Gibson, Co-operative Team Manager.
Chris Lines spoke about the birth of the ‘Sedgefield Village Games’, and the work of the voluntary organisations, commenting that many of the people in the room hadn’t met before, but despite this, they all have something in common; “a love of Sedgefield and a passion to sustain what makes our town special for the generations to come.”
Hayley focused on what the Coop could accomplish within the village, explaining the concept of the ‘Doorstep Challenge’ - an initiative launched nationwide by the company to encourage helping people in the community, by anonymously leaving shopping at their Sedgefield’s ‘Legion of Volunteers’ Celebrate Achievements doorstep. Hayley explained that in Sedgefield, residents can nominate a someone who they feel has had a tough time recently, and is selfless in their contributions to Sedgefield. The branch also has a Community Fund which any organisation can apply for, and in the past, the Community Hospital has benefited. The store has received formal recognition from Sedgefield’s Mayor, and wishes to expand on its presence within the community.
Representatives of various groups took part in the celebration, including Park Run, Guides, Harriers, Brownies, Lirica, Sedgefield Lyrics Youth Choir. When asked why they contribute to village life, most had a similar response: that volunteering is a way to make new friends, feel part of the community, and of course, have fun - to quote one of the Post-It notes on the SDT board, “Once you start, you cannot stop.” Huge accomplishments are possible through volunteering. A member of the Sedgefield Guides has been selected to travel to the Philippines, which required her to be selected from all the Guides in the North East. Some organisations, such as the Lyrics choirs, have existed for over 40 years.
As well as being its own reward to the volunteers, their work also provides a variety of activities that anyone can take part in; whether it be joining Rob Guest to sing in one of the choirs or running alongside 180 people at Park Run in Hardwick Park. Sedgefield’s vibrant community wouldn’t be the same without our volunteers. There are hopes that this event will become an annual celebration, and that more voluntary organisations will be able to join in. Overall, it was great fun and an excellent chance for like-minded people to meet, as they continue to make Sedgefield a town to be proud of.Jake Graham