Volunteers’ Week 2022: Spotlight on Ray Caines

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 Ray Caines – Lead EHS Manager, Transport.

Where do you volunteer and what does the role entail?

I do quite a bit for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) as an unpaid volunteer. I have 10 cemeteries I manage in and around the Nottinghamshire area which have approximately 139 WW1 and WW2 casualties with known headstones that I look after.

The project is called Eyes On, Hands On (EOHO) and it’s funded by Annington Homes. I have an interest in in the work the CWGC does. I act as their eyes on the ground and feedback information to the Commission on the condition of war graves so resources can then be directed to headstones that need their expert attention.

I also conduct inspections on the headstones every six months and if they need cleaning, I will do so using a soft bristle brush and clean water (no detergents). It’s then a matter of scrubbing the headstone until it’s clean. If further repairs are required or the inscription is getting to a point of being unreadable, then I’ll log a report and the CWGC step in.

What first prompted you to take on a volunteering role?

I was already aware of the work that the CWGC did having visited France and Belgium on a regular basis which led me to visit cemeteries and memorials. I was able to see the first-class work that the commission do in remembering our fallen.

When the commission began to advertise for volunteers to help with their work, I applied for the EOHO role in Nottinghamshire straight away.

What made you choose this particular cause?

I have a keen interest in this work and get a real sense of satisfaction acting as the ‘eyes on the ground’ and feeding back about the condition of war graves so that our resources are best directed to those that need attention. Seeing headstones before and after cleaning gives me a very proud feeling and can be emotional at times.

What do you enjoy most about your volunteering role?

I have the opportunity to visit local war grave sites around Nottinghamshire and it’s a great honour to know that my inspections play a vital role in helping to maintain UK war graves. It also gives me a chance to explain our work to families of all ages that are visiting lost ones at the same time.

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

I have recently returned from France where I visited over 50 British and Commonwealth cemeteries, looking at headstones (including family members who lost their lives in WW1) and caring for them. That was a very poignant and unforgettable moment for me.

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

I would thoroughly recommend this type of volunteering. It’s different and can be very rewarding.

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