Volunteers’ Week 2022: Spotlight on Gareth Critchley

It’s Volunteers’ Week and Telent is celebrating some of the selfless colleagues who give their time to good causes. Volunteers’ Week is an annual celebration of the contribution millions of people make across the UK through volunteering. Over the week, Telent is shining a spotlight on some of the fantastic volunteers around the business to recognise their contribution and say thank you.

Today’s spotlight is on Gareth Critchley – Programme Support Manager, Infrastructure Services.

Where do you volunteer and what does the role entail?

My current roles are with Chorley’s Angels as a Voluntary First Aider and ICT Officer. My role as a First Aider includes providing First Aid cover to any event that we have been asked to support. I also help to provide training to the public during any public demonstrations, other organisations such as local Scout units and train any new Chorley’s Angels. As the ICT Officer I help to manage the organisation’s social media presence and website and am the point of contact for any enquiries. I am also training and gaining experience to become a qualified and accredited Trainer.

What first prompted you to take on a volunteering role?

When I’d just turned 18 years old in 2001, a close friend of mine said he was going to join the local St John Ambulance (SJA) Chorley Jubilee Quad Division and invited me to join him. I originally joined to make more friends and build some self-confidence, as this was something I’d struggled with due to bullying all through high school and college. As I began volunteering my confidence grew, and it gave me a sense of satisfaction and pride. I firstly trained to be a Voluntary First Aider and provided support at public events. As time went on, I started to help train the SJA Cadet Units (Youth).

During the 14 years I was with SJA, as well as covering events and helping to deliver First Aid training to people, I also helped to train Youth First Aid Teams who won the St John Ambulance National Youth First Aid Championship several times. I also helped setup an adult team, to which we became County of Lancashire Champions in 2009 and 2010. After this, I became the Interim Youth Unit Manager for the Cadet unit in 2012/13. Sadly, the unit was closed in January 2015.

A few months later, I joined the Chorley’s Angels Community First Aid, a group setup by friends I’d made at SJA, and continued my development as a Voluntary First Aider. In my seven years there, I have been given the chance to develop my skills and I’m currently working to get my Education and Training Level 3 qualification. I’ve also become the ICT officer!

Since joining SJA in November 2001, I’ve never looked back!

What made you choose this particular cause?

For Chorley’s Angels, I joined because some of the members were good friends of mine and I felt it would be a waste of skills, knowledge, and experience that I’d built during my many years at SJA if I didn’t put them to use. It seemed like the next logical step to join!

What do you enjoy most about your volunteering role?

I would say it’s a combination of the challenge, the people you meet, the variety of events that we cover, and the people that I work alongside that makes volunteering enjoyable.

Is there a moment you’re particularly proud of from your time volunteering?

There is a recent incident where I was part of a team providing First Aid coverage to a Cross Country event in Chorley. Me and my partner had been alerted to a runner who had suddenly become ill and was finding it difficult to breathe. After providing treatment and seeing an initial improvement, the runner’s condition quickly deteriorated. We were able to arrange transport to the nearby Chorley Hospital so they could receive further treatment. We were contacted a week later from the runner who said that after we’d transferred him to Chorley Hospital, he had a heart attack and was recovering in a specialised ward. I feel very proud that I was able to help in that moment!

What advice would you give to a colleague who is thinking about volunteering?

Don’t be ashamed to have fun. If you’re having fun, you’ll enjoy the voluntary work even more.

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