Having spent 28 years working for the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority, I decided to take on something completely different in my retirement being concerned that when I was free to do anything and everything on my own terms, I would miss the challenge of my demanding career, as well as the interaction with colleagues.
I have always loved animals and live just around the corner from the Curraghs Wildlife Park, so the decision to volunteer at the Park was an easy one.
Being used to giving presentations on legislation, it was relatively simple to transfer my skills to giving feeding talks on Humboldt penguins, short-clawed otters, fishing cats and other residents of the Park, as well as encouraging adults and children to meet a snake or a Madagascan Hissing Cockroach in the Rainforest Theatre.
Volunteers at the Park can undertake many different activities from giving presentations to hands-on physical improvements to the animal enclosures.
There is also the opportunity to view the amazing antics of the ring-tailed lemurs without a barrier while managing the Lemurs of Madagascar Enclosure – a delight which never fails to make us smile.
Volunteering is a great way keep your mind and body active.
The Park provides an opportunity to engage with others, both children and adults, providing interesting facts and encouraging respect for the animals sharing this planet with us, while learning more yourself!
It also enables you to give back to the community, as without the volunteers, the Park would not be unable to provide the varied ‘What’s On’ talks and presentations to entertain visitors, and there is definitely a ‘feel-good factor’ in getting involved in this way.
In today’s world, there seems to be more people suffering from anxiety and depression and Covid-19 has exacerbated the situation.
I know from personal experience of a family member how volunteering can help and that having regular involvement in enjoyable activities with others can provide people with a sense of worth and achievement.
However, volunteering is a two way street.
It’s great if it works for you but it also has to work for the company where you volunteer. Whilst it is unpaid and, by definition, voluntary, companies will inevitably place a certain reliance on your turning up.
So if you are thinking that volunteering is for you, think carefully about the level of commitment you are willing and able to give.
Having started as a Volunteer Presenter, I am now also the Treasurer of the Supporters of the Curraghs Wildlife Park, an Isle of Man registered charity which supports the Park, making a difference for its animals and visitors, and I can honestly say that I am enjoying every minute of it!
Anyone interested in becoming a Supporter of the Curraghs Wildlife Park or in volunteering at the Park can get in touch with me at SupportersCWP@manx.net or through the Supporters Facebook page.