Leeds heroine named volunteer of the year

Volunteer Geraldine Foley
Volunteer Geraldine Foley
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Dedicated school’s volunteer Geraldine Foley has been named the North of England’s Schools Volunteer of the Year by the NSPCC for their Childhood Champion Awards – devised to recognise the dedication and commitment of the charity’s volunteers across the UK.

Geraldine, who has volunteered for the NSPCC’s school service for the past four years has delivered over 280 Speak out. Stay safe. assemblies in North Yorkshire. She frequently travels all over the county and even across the border into West Yorkshire at times to cover areas with fewer volunteers, from the smallest village school of 15 children in the Yorkshire Dales to the largest of 800 in Scarborough.

Speak out. Stay safe. is an innovative NSPCC programme delivering safeguarding messages to primary school children. The aim is to help children understand about different types of abuse and neglect so that they can get help if or when they need it.

The assembly helps children to identify a trusted adult they can speak to if they are ever worried about themselves or a friend along with information about Childline.

Geraldine who is 64 and lives in Leeds said she was honoured to receive the award: “I was amazed really, there are so many others that are doing the same as me, we are a team and are all friends so this is a team award really. I don’t see myself giving up anytime soon, it keeps me going, it keeps me active and I need it as much as the NSPCC needs volunteers, I need this in my life.”

Geraldine began volunteering after giving up working full time to look after her daughter who has special needs and ongoing mental health issues, she said “I have always worked with children, all my working life and as my daughter’s health improved I considered volunteering. The NSPCC was the first charity I looked at and as soon as I saw the schools service I got hooked, it fitted in lovely, it is very flexible in how you can volunteer, and it is the variety of the role that I love.

“You get different worries from different children, depending on where you live and what the family backgrounds are for example around Catterick you get a lot of army children and their worries are about parents fighting overseas or terrorism whereas in a big city like York the worries might be more on bullying, calling each other hurtful names, it is completely different for each and every school.”

All nominees were recommended by fellow NSPCC volunteers and staff across the country in categories including corporate partner volunteer of the year, frontline volunteer of the year and ChildLine volunteer of the year.

Geraldine was nominated for the award by Area Coordinator Tracey Weaver for her enthusiasm and tireless devotion, she said “Geraldine is a joy to work with, she is so passionate and is such a support to others, as she buddies up with many new volunteers and helps coach them. Geraldine’s willingness to put children first was showcased at the NSPCC’s ACM last year when she gave a passionate presentation to hundreds of fundraisers. We could not have had a better ambassador.”

Geraldine will now be invited to attend a celebratory ceremony on Tuesday 5 June in Central London as part of the NSPCC’s National Volunteers’ Week celebrations.

A national judging panel including NSPCC Chief Executive Peter Wanless, Dame Esther Rantzen DBE, Trustee and our Chairman Mark Wood will choose a UK-wide winner in each category to be announced at the ceremony. The award will be presented by HRH The Countess of Wessex.