Paul and Sue tell us how their group supports people with MS. And how they’ve rubbed shoulders with royals at Buckingham Palace.
A team of wonderful volunteers
Sue: The MS Society Isle of Wight Group has been running for over 30 years, and I’ve been volunteering with the group for 10. I’m a Support, Finance and Administration Volunteer.
Paul: I’ve been the Group Coordinator for the group for five years now.
Sue: We have over 30 wonderful volunteers, and together we support over 150 people with MS on the island. We’re very lucky to have a successful shop which is run by our Shop Manager, Lynne, and a number of volunteers. The shop is the main source of income for our group and enables us to offer vital support to people living with MS in the area. This includes running a therapy voucher scheme, so people can access complimentary therapies from various specialists.
Paul: We raise awareness of MS by attending lots of events throughout the summer, and host social activities to help our community stay connected. We also partner with MS nurses to make sure anyone with MS knows how our group can support them.
Being recognised for all we do
Sue: Just knowing how many people our group supports keeps us feeling motivated. In 2020 we were proud to be recognised more widely, receiving The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.
Paul: The award celebrates the work of a fantastic, diverse range of volunteer groups who've enhanced and supported local communities over the years. It’s the highest award given to groups delivering exceptional service – the equivalent of the MBE for volunteers. It’s a fantastic achievement for our group.
Sue: We received an impressive (and very heavy!) trophy which we’ve proudly displayed in our shop. And we were invited to one of the Buckingham Palace Garden Parties to celebrate. These were cancelled due to COVID-19 but a couple of weeks ago, we were finally able to attend. And it was well worth the wait!
Celebrating in style
Paul: It was amazing to be in the garden at Buckingham Palace alongside 8,000 others, all smartly dressed and really proud to be there. The three royals — the Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex — spent nearly two hours interacting with the public. You could see they were really enjoying themselves and they took the time to speak to everyone. I thought Kate was so lovely, kind, and caring.
Sue: The sun was shining and we were greeted by an impressive band playing as we entered the event. Inside the grounds was another band and tea was served. The gardens are immaculate! The whole event was seamless. It was a lovely and calm atmosphere but it felt very surreal being there.
Paul: Everyone felt like they were part of something special. The food was amazing — beautifully catered, and plenty of it.
Sue: While we were both lucky to attend, I can’t stress enough that we won the award as a group. We’re such a brilliant team and doing what we do already makes us feel rewarded. Receiving this special award has just been the icing on the cake!
Making a difference
Paul: To anyone thinking of volunteering, I’d highly recommend it. Even if you can only offer a few hours of your time here and there, you’ll be making a difference.
Sue: One of our coordinating team members who works weekly shifts in the shop, and organises events and socials, recently told me how she feels she’s got her life back. It’s amazing how volunteering can have such a positive impact on your mental health. It can help you stay connected and make friends, and can give you purpose.
I think anyone thinking of volunteering should go for it!
Our volunteers make a big difference for people affected by MS. Find out how you can volunteer with us today.