Giving some of your time for free is a wonderfully rewarding experience. The world doesn’t have to be all money driven, and I regularly find that people are more committed to a cause when they work for the love of it. Many charities run on volunteers because of their dedication and generosity. If only all things in life could be worked purely for passion…
Much of my early expedition work was as a volunteer for Operation Raleigh. During the 1990’s I helped others with their expedition plans, and trained hundreds of venturers in the skills needed when in country. A close-knit group of volunteers soon appeared, giving up numerous weekends to help with their expertise. My two main subjects were navigation and camp craft. They were (and still are) subjects close to my heart, so teaching them come rain or shine was a pleasure. The woods of Drum Hill Scout Camp near Derby had dozens of stretcher beds, hammocks, long drops, kitchens and campfires built-in them. We slept in the camp whatever the season or weather, as we truly enjoyed what we were doing. It was not only a pleasure, but an honour to be able to pass on our knowledge. Drying out piles of kit for the next week was a bind, but time and time again people answered the call. It naturally came to an end when I suffered severe frostbite, but during my last event, I was wheeled into the 1st aid lecture, clad in bandages..!
Whilst I charge for many of my lectures, I occasionally speak for free. Late last year I worked with a number of Mountain Rescue Teams, promoting winter skills at their meetings. Teams are called out in any weather, and winter can catch even them out. It’s always good to reinforce the important messages of staying warm and dry, after all, who do the rescuers call in an emergency..? I was asked if I would like to assist in an exercise and become a casualty for the day with Kinder Mountain Rescue Team in Derbyshire. I happily agreed. I was asked to play a casualty who had suffered angina and then fallen badly, receiving head injuries. ‘Please don’t ware red as it stands out too much’ was the only rule, so I clad myself in dark green and hid on the hill. A SARDA dog found me quickly and a full assessment and evacuation took place. Thankfully it was a beautifully sunny day, but whatever the weather, I’d have had a rewarding time. Days like this are a real learning experience for everyone.
I’ve been a trustee of Heage Windmill for a number of years, which some may find surprising. ‘What does a mountaineer have to do with a windmill..?’ you might ask. Well, I’ve also been an engineer for many years and believe in renewable energy. Though we don’t generate electricity at the mill, were a great example of how nature has been harnessed for centuries. I’m fortunate to see the mill turning from my house and it looks beautiful on the landscape. We involve the local community and schools, passing on our knowledge and ideas which are vital if we are to better enhance the power of nature.
And finally… I’m also involved with the work of the Mountain Heritage Trust. This is a new venture where I would like to promote mountain heritage into education, but let me get the ball rolling first.
Time always seems to be the problem in modern society. People are too busy, or committed to take on the responsibility of volunteering. I’ve learned to say no to some invitations, purely to protect myself, but I’ll always do something. I find volunteering the perfect antidote to the modern business world.
We just need to find the balance that suits us all…