A special event to recognise and celebrate the work of Colchester’s community volunteers took place yesterday at Colchester Castle.

The occasion, co-hosted by Colchester City Council (CCC) and Community360 (C360), brought together some of the dedicated organisations and selfless volunteers who offer their assistance to the most vulnerable members of the community.

As well as stalls and activities showcasing the work of more than 150 local volunteer groups, attendees heard guest speakers from CCC and C360 share their experiences and insights and enjoyed two performances by Harmonize Choir.

The new mayor of Colchester, Cllr John Jowers, whose theme for the year is Volunteers – the heart of our communities, expressed his gratitude and appreciation for the many volunteers and unsung heroes who tirelessly support communities across Colchester. Rachel Walton from AFiUK Colchester paid a moving tribute to the Laurence Walker, who died in March having devoted his life to promoting racial equality and diversity.

Cllr Natalie Sommers, Portfolio Holder for Communities, said: “We are incredibly grateful to the countless volunteers who tirelessly support our local communities day in and day out.

“Their unwavering commitment and selflessness are a testament to the power of community spirit and the importance of coming together to support those most in need.

“We are deeply appreciative of their willingness to step forward and lend a helping hand when and where it is needed the most, which was particularly evident during the challenging times of the pandemic. We are fortunate to have them as part of our community and this event was one small way to thank them.

“I hope that, by recognising and celebrating those whose volunteering makes a difference, others will feel inspired to follow. Their efforts serve as a constant reminder of the importance of giving back to the community.”

Tracy Rudling, CEO of C360 and Chair of One Colchester, said:

“This type of event has been organised by C360 and its valued partners for almost 30 years now, and it never fails to inspire, humble, and make me so proud of what we achieve in Colchester, together. Volunteers are at the core of what we do, they are dedicated, hardworking and go above and beyond to help us reach out and touch the lives of our people every day in every way. I am always amazed how they continue to show commitment, expertise and immense kindness in so many different ways and I know how grateful colleagues and the organisations we support are for their ongoing support.  Our volunteers are the bedrock, eyes and ears of all that we do and the impact of their contribution is unmeasurable.

This event gave us an opportunity to put the spotlight on the valuable work of our unsung heroes, to say thank you and to let them know just how much they are appreciated.”

Volunteers Week is an annual celebration to recognise the fantastic contribution volunteers make to communities. It is supported and celebrated by small grassroots organisations as well as larger, household-name charities.

For more information on volunteering go to https://www.community360.org.uk/get-involved/volunteer/