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Winning the Princess Diana Award Champion Volunteer has been a Real Highlight!

Darren McDonagh from Larne volunteers with Larne YMCA/St John's Ambulance.

1. What does your volunteering involve?
I spend two nights a week as a Junior Leader in the YMCA, where I help to facilitate activities, engaging with young people at all times, running the tuck shop, managing money, and I have developed the website and new point of sale for the shop. I’m actively encouraged to bring new ideas. I also volunteer as First Aider at St John’s Ambulance.

2. When did you first begin volunteering?
I started volunteering with both organisations in 2009, twice a week.

3. What inspired you to get involved?
To try and make a difference in my community. I also had a fear of anything medical but through volunteering I overcame these fears.

4. What attracted you to the role?
The opportunities available with St Johns made me volunteer, public involvement and the chance for training. I attended the YMCA after-schools clubs and youth club as a service user and decided that I would like to give something back.

5. What skills or qualities are required for your volunteering role?
Good communication skills, ability to work as part of a team and also have an idea about leadership. However this will come as you actively get involved.

6. Why do you volunteer?
It’s a great way to meet people with common interests, it adds a social element to my life and structure. It also offered me life skills and an understanding of how other people live.

7. How often do you volunteer?
4 nights / days a week, 10-12 hours weekly.

8. What do you enjoy most about volunteering?
Gets me out of the house and gives me something to do. Volunteering fulfils a gap in my life.

9. Why would you encourage others to get involved?
It gives you a sense of fulfilment. It gives you opportunities that you wouldn’t get any other way. I get a sense of community and you begin to understand the issues that face your own community and if you volunteer you get to be a part of making that difference, no matter how small.

10. What has been the highlight of your volunteering?
Winning the Princess Diana Award – Champion Volunteer. I was nominated by St John’s, the YMCA and other young people for a contribution to the community.

11. What advice would you give someone starting to volunteer?
Go for something that you are interested in, that’s related to a hobby or vocation. Ensure it is something you will enjoy and pick an organisation that recognises and values your commitment as a volunteer.