The five girls who volunteered to help with the award ceremony also received a book
Craig Womble, one of the Centre's managers, and Bethany who had worked so hard
All photos courtesy of and copyright Steve Pallant - with thanks
I had been asked to present prizes and certificates to the Young Volunteers, and their prize was a copy of Magus of Stonewylde. The Mayor of Dorchester and the event's sponsor, Gerald Duke, presented the certificates to the other award winners. The event took place in the Dorford Centre in Dorchester, which was somewhat different from when I last visited back in 1985 on a playgroup observation visit! The scruffy old floorboards had disappeared and the building is now comfortable and immaculate.
It was a lovely evening, with nibbles and refreshments provided and a really big turn-out of awardees and their families and friends. The large hall was packed with people and the ceremony was beautifully orchestrated. It was amazing to see the diversity of volunteers, from little 10 year old Leon, who won his award for campaigning in Lyme Regis to save a local hotel from destruction, to elderly people from all over the county who give their time to staff drop-in centres, provide transport and refreshments, visit the sick and lonely and run library services etc. The list went on and on and it was heart-warming to hear. Three adults with learning difficulties received awards for their voluntary work, and some people seemed to be up on stage more than once for different community activities. It's good to be reminded of just how much difference a person can make to society. Many of the people receiving awards were not in the best of health themselves, and many were long-retired, but clearly they devoted their time to helping others.
I'd been invited to present a short talk about my books and Dorset roots to the audience, and was delighted to be given an amazing introduction by one of the volunteers. The lights dimmed, images of my books and the Stonewylde Goddess in the Landscape flashed onto the screen, and in a deep and theatrical voice, John introduced Stonewylde, reading quite a big chunk to give people a flavour of the books. It was lovely - and a hard act to follow. People must have expected me to materialise on stage in a puff of purple smoke after that!
Many thanks to Craig Womble, the man who has orchestrated the event and his assistant Bethany who'd put a huge amount of effort into ensuring the smooth running of the evening. She received a set of Stonewylde books as thanks, and the five girls who helped on the night also received copies of Magus. I drove back to Reading feeling very uplifted after witnessing the wonderful spirit of altruism that volunteers of all ages, shapes and sizes create.