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Volunteering can be life-changing

“This is purely the best thing that has happened to me”, Maureen said as she opened the purple velvet box containing the Queen’s award badge, tears rolling down her face. Unexpectedly, I find myself getting upset too. Our casual conversation in the Green Hive workshop has taken a sudden emotional turn but before Maureen can compose herself and tell us about life before moving to Nairn, Drew Hendry, our local MP, bursts into the room, running late from his various local appointme

Drew has come to see Green Hive because we have recently been announced as a finalist in the SCVO Scottish Charity Awards, in the Climate Conscious category. This follows on from our collaborative work with partners in Nairn which led to us winning Scotland Loves Local Climate Town award in 2021 and the Queen’s Award for volunteering in 2020. The Queen’s badge we have just given Maureen feels like a small gesture, but for her, it means the world. She captivates Drew and the rest of our team as she tentatively shares glimpses of her deeply personal story.

“I moved to Nairn…all of a sudden like…during the lockdown. It wasn’t planned. I knew nobody. Didn’t know who to turn to…I missed my garden terribly. Then I met Caroline at the Green Hive Orchard, and then we went to the allotments for the Apple tree event. And here I am now sitting with MPs and stuff…amazing, life-changing. You can’t understand what this means to me…to be able to potter…just be and potter in the Green Hive Orchard…pure happiness. Thank you, thank you for my badge I will have to wear it every time I go out and remember to change it over when I wear different jackets”. We all laugh saying she should have six badges!

Maureen has only been volunteering for Green Hive for about six weeks and clearly, there is a lot we don’t know about her past life prior to moving to Nairn. But already she is looking and sounding more confident and is a much-loved new volunteer who cannot wait to come and potter at another Orchard session. She doesn’t mind telling MPs a thing or two either now that she has her Queen’s Award badge!

Here is a photo of the Green Hive Community Orchard Maureen loves so much.

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