I started volunteering with Portaferry Gala just after I got married, I was introduced to the committee by my husband's aunt, no-one warned me before I got married that this was part of the deal! Caroline Mageean
The reason I joined the committee and stayed for all these years was really to feel involved in the village as I was a blow in or an outsider.
However, I quickly became involved in the committee and really settled into the aims and objectives of what we were all about.
Initially I joined as Secretary and was voted in as Chairperson in February 2009.
There are a number of reasons why I have stayed so active in the local community for the last 10 years and being a full time working mum of two, volunteering makes good use of what free time I have.
Through volunteering I have been given the opportunity to do something that really makes a difference to people’s lives in the village. As an added bonus it also benefits the businesses and other groups in the area.
It has given me the opportunity to meet a wide range of people, not only in my village but in neighbouring villages.
I have made great links with other groups and the local primary and secondary schools by being able to involve them in many events and activities we arrange in our group. Working with other people in the village really benefits all the community and creates great cohesion.
But more than that it is what volunteering has done for me personally that makes me stay so involved in my community.
It has given me the opportunity to develop my skills and experience through training opportunities with Volunteer Now, Nicva and RCN.
It has increased my self confidence and helped me discover new talents I didn’t know I had, it gives me a great sense of pride in what I can do and I find the end result of all the events we arrange rewarding.
Each year our committee run the week long Portaferry Gala (now in its 44th annual Gala week) with a wide range of events that suit all the family. We have a jam packed programme with over 50 events, over 500 volunteers and it attracts an audience in excess of 15,000 for its main event.
None of these activities would take place if it weren’t for all the volunteers who give so freely of their time. Each member brings their own talents and experience to the committee and each share the passion and drive for what we do.
Volunteering is not always plain sailing, and can be quite challenging but when one child or one family come up to you and say “Thank You” and tell you how much they have enjoyed one of our events, then I know what we do is worthwhile and worth doing again.