Plymouth's Inspiring Volunteering winner describes voluntary work as "a passion"
By Plymouth Herald | Thursday, March 21, 2013, 05:30
A WINNER at last year's Inspiring Volunteering Awards has said that it encouraged more people to join the community group with which he is involved.
Mike Gallagher, from Friends of Devonport Park
Mike Gallagher, who is a part of The Friends of Devonport Park, describes his volunteer work as "a passion".
He won Environmental Volunteer of the Year at last year's Inspiring Volunteers Awards ceremony, held at Plymouth University.
Nominations are now open for this year's awards, which are run in partnership between The Herald, Plymouth Guild and Plymouth University.
The Friends of Devonport Park run events and raise money to help with maintenance of the park, as well as a volunteer gardening team with specific beds that they maintain.
Mike said: "The Friends of Devonport Park take part in Plymouth in Bloom and South West in Bloom and we have won quite a few awards.
"I think getting the award last year helped to publicise the volunteers and the gardens – we now have quite a good volunteer base, we get about 20 every Monday.
"The volunteers include students from the college and members of Active For Life which is a programme for people with mental health problems and learning disabilities.
"It's definitely nice that something like this can help people come together."
The group, which has been running since 2005, has seen a rise in volunteers since last year's event and Mike himself has also taken on more duties in the community.
He added: "Awards like this actually encourage other people to get involved in volunteering , which is the biggest bonus. You get a lot of satisfaction from it. I have always been involved in other things on a smaller scale – it's a passion.
"Now I'm actually Vice Chair of Plymouth in Bloom.
"People don't volunteer to get awards but it was nice to get nominated and to know that people feel you deserve it.
"It was a very pleasant surprise to be nominated but it was even more of a shock to find out I had got the award. It was a big surprise to win, I had no idea at all.
"It did raise the profile of the friends of the park and it raised the profile of gardening. We have definitely had a rise in volunteers since then, so I would recommend community groups get involved in the awards. It's a great way to raise your profile."
Nominations are now open for this year's Inspiring Volunteering Awards, which are also sponsored by The Skills Group, Sigma, CSR, Young Devon, Trevi House and Plymouth University Student Union.