As the first of our series of Pride of Bracknell Forest Awards interviews, we caught up with Carol Ellis, Runner Up for the John Nike Pride of Bracknell Forest - Adult Award in 2018. Carol let us know about her vast amount of voluntary work and fundraising, and talked about the great impact of the Awards on the area.
So Carol, tell us a little bit about yourself and your volunteering in Bracknell Forest?
Most of my time is occupied with my volunteering work and fundraising, as well as looking after my grandchildren, Mya and Ella, and my elderly mother. I have incurable liver cancer and am a patient at Thames Hospice in Windsor, so I like to do a lot of fundraising for them. I just raised £1,400 for the hospice dying my hair hot pink! I also volunteer at 1st Warfield Rainbows every week, as well as doing weekend and holiday activities with them such as community projects, the Christmas children's shoebox appeal and craft activities, and I volunteer at Fox Hill School helping the children with their reading.
Tell us a bit more about your role at Warfield Rainbows and why you got involved?
I am the main Guider of 1st Warfield Rainbows and I have 4 other adult helpers and 4 young leaders. I got involved in Guiding when my daughter was 8 years old (she is 35 now) as a mum helper, and I was asked after a couple of months of helping if I would like to be trained, go in uniform and help at Brownies. In 1996 1st Warfield Rainbows needed someone to run the Unit, so I said I would do it for 6 months until they found someone to take over, and all these years later I'm still running the Unit and I love it!
How did the group react to your award?
The parents and the Rainbows were so happy to see Koala, my Guiding name, in the newspaper and pleased that I got chosen for the Awards.
Who, or what, inspires you in your voluntary work?
My helpers, the Rainbows and their families all inspire me. Everyone is so supportive and helpful. It's a fantastic feeling to see the girls' confidence grow, see them learn new skills and get involved with the community, and most of all enjoy themselves and have fun!
What do the Awards mean to you and the local area?
It's nice to be recognised for the work and time that we do with the girls. It's not just me, I have a great team that are always there with me. The Awards give everyone an opportunity to be nominated by people that appreciate and are thankful for the time and effort they give up for the community and charities.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to give back to the community?
If you have an hour or two a week go out in the community and volunteer, whether it's a local club, group, or visiting someone who would love company or can't get out, the satisfaction you receive and feel in yourself is so fulfilling, and you are also supporting and helping others.
You attended the Pride of Bracknell Forest Awards a few years ago as well as this year, how did the 2018 ceremony compare?
It was a different atmosphere all over, and having it at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst made me even more excited and gave me a real sense of pride. It was spectacular. I used to live in Sandhurst and you never really get the chance to go there!
And finally, do you have anything exciting coming up in the area?
Yes, lots! I will be doing the Santa Dash in Swinley Forest on Sunday 25th November in aid of Thames Hospice, and will also be opening the new Thames Hospice shop in Princess Square on Friday 9th November, with Sue Holderness who played Marlene in Only Fools and Horses!
If you would like to nominate your local hero for a Pride of Bracknell Forest Award, you can fill in an online nomination now.