WELL, that’s it. After starting out on my Big40 Challenge almost 12 months ago, I have finally completed my task and picked up my gold certificate.
Come to think of it, it seems like an age ago that I was contacted by Volunteer Centre Dacorum to see if I would be interested in taking part in an initiative to celebrate their 40th year.
And what was the task? To put in 40 hours of service at organisations across Dacorum and get a taste of what it is like for the volunteers who give up their time for worthwhile causes across the borough.
And when I look back at the challenge and recall the places I have been and the people I have met, it really hits home how much good work goes on in Dacorum. It is often easy for people to get swept up in negativity, but the challenge really highlighted just how strong the community spirit is in the borough.
My challenge has taken me to a variety of organisations over Dacorum, and even though I got a glimpse of life at only a fraction of the charities, schools and sports clubs across the borough, it showed that there really are volunteering opportunities for everyone – regardless of age, gender or interests.
Some personal highlights of my challenge included mucking out the ponies at Gaddesden Place Riding for the Disabled Centre (honest!), completely revamping the woodland area at Woodfield School, judging the fancy dress competition at the Mencap Halloween party, and marshalling an athletics morning with Dacorum SSP.
I could go on for pages and pages listing everything I got up to over the course of my 40 hours, but it would be easier to sum it up by saying that each organisation offered me a different experience and left me with a tremendous level of admiration for the people who dedicate their time to the causes, day in day out.
There are so many worthwhile projects in action, and each one of them is in desperate need of people to dedicate the odd hour here or there. While it may only make a small difference to your daily life, there is no overstating the importance it makes to the people who benefit from the services.
So if the Diamond Jubilee and London Olympics have inspired you to get in the community spirit this year, why not head down to the Volunteer Centre and see what takes your fancy?
With two weeks left to begin the Big40 Challenge, and with Britain hoping for medals at the Games this summer, there’s no reason not to start your very own quest for gold – it will certainly leave you with that winning feeling.