Monday, 26 June 2017
Having recently been awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services (QAVS), there was extra reason for celebration at this year’s Bolton School Year 12 student volunteering awards night. The top 40 performing Sixth Form students from both Divisions and their parents attended the presentation evening and picked up Bronze, Silver or Gold awards depending on whether they had committed over 20 hours, 50 hours or 100 hours to helping in the local community. Mrs Entwistle, Head of Community Action, compered the evening and told how students had committed 9,243 hours of their time to volunteering, which amounted to over five years’ full-time work. 143 students had achieved at least a Bronze status, with as many as 25 students attaining their Gold Award, helping out at a wide range of institutions including Brownies, Beavers and Scouts, at the School’s SHINE Saturday morning programme, as classroom assistants or mentors at local schools such as Gilnow Fold and Smithills, working with the homeless in Greater Manchester, offering translation services, working in hospices and care homes, assisting with local charities such as Urban Outreach and Bolton Lads and Girls Club and in myriad other ways. Mrs Entwistle told how the School does not pursue one “sparkly” project but that it is routine for pupils to be involved in volunteering from Early Years to Sixth Form and it was this that had seen the School achieve the unique national honour of the QAVS award. Paraphrasing a student quote she said: “It is the most ordinary actions that have the biggest impacts.”
Several students addressed the gathering, telling of their work; Ali, who volunteered at Bolton Hospice, advised the audience: “If an opportunity comes your way in the future, take it”; Anika, who worked as a Student Leader at Gordonstoun’s Summer School for 4 weeks, said it was one of the greatest experiences of her life and that it was something that she would never forget; Maryam recalled how her time at Urban Outreach had been “something I looked forward to” and that volunteering is something that she will continue with throughout her life.
Aside from the obvious benefits of helping others and bolstering their CV, students spoke of how their work had helped them learn about themselves, develop new friendships, broaden their horizons, improve their communication capabilities, build their tenacity, enhance their time management skills and learn patience, as well as providing them with fulfilling experiences whilst realising the importance of making a difference, even if it is just to one person.
Special guest for the evening was The High Sheriff of Greater Manchester, Mr Kui Man Gerry Yeung, who handed out the awards and gave an inspiring talk, commending the students on their civic pride, saying he did not know of a school that engaged so much and so well with its local community. He told the Sixth Formers that “you will enrich and be enriched” by volunteering and he finished by hoping that there might be some future High Sheriffs sat in the audience tonight. He then offered up his sword for the official cutting of a splendid cake celebrating the awarding of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services.
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