The Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe has paid tribute to volunteers whose efforts help to underpin a thriving British community at SHAPE.

“The inclusive atmosphere we have here at SHAPE enables a strong sense of belonging,” Admiral Sir Keith Blount told guests at a volunteer appreciation evening.  

Shape House is the base for a wide range of groups and activities and Community Liaison Officers Gemma Hough and Rosie McEwan rely on helpers. The UK Brit Bar opens regularly, thanks to its committee and volunteers. Parkrun, Scouts, sports clubs and charities also benefit from supporters who give up their time and energy.  

The celebration was held in the UK Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ Mess with a buffet provided by the DSACEUR’s chef Sgt Matemera – who also volunteered his skills and time.  

UK NMR Air Commodore Steve Kilvington told the audience: “Our volunteers here are incredible. Whether delivering group activities, socials or support, they not only generate brilliant events for the community, but are, in fact, the foundation of the community.  

“Their efforts are at the heart of British life here at SHAPE and this evening offered a small opportunity to say thanks.”

Two-way traffic

Guests were keen to share the fact that they got something out of giving their time to help others. “Volunteering has given me wonderful friendships and introduced me to lots of interesting people in the community,” explained Helen Gorman.

“Also, due to frequent moves and family life, my current CV was looking a little bare. Becoming a volunteer broadened my experiences and gave me recent events to refer to when interviewing.  

“It really boosted confidence in my abilities and reminded me of my strengths. I believe an up-to-date DBS and food handling certificate, needed for volunteering activities, is a positive bonus to an employer.”  

Lyndsey Fixer said she jumped at the chance to take over the Bumps to Babies group because of the vital support network it gave her during pregnancy and after the birth of her daughter.  

“I honestly do not know what I would have done without the group, and I wanted to offer the same opportunities for the women and babies in the community. It can be difficult to be away from family and friends, and even more so when you are pregnant or have a newborn.  

“I wanted the group to be a warm and welcoming safe place for mums to come and share experiences, talk anything and everything babies – or not, partake in planned activities such as sensory play, meet new people but most importantly be able to finish a brew while it was still hot!”  

She added: “It has been an absolute honour to run this group and I cannot thank enough all the mums and their beautiful babies who have come to the group. I hope it has supported others as much as it did with me.”

A chance to say thank you

UK Community Liaison Officer Co-ordinator Rosie McEwan said volunteering enhanced life experience and friendships and the evening was a chance to say thank you as well as goodbye to those who were moving on over the next few months.

“Thank you to all that have the passion to be a volunteer – it really is appreciated.”

Anyone who wants to know more about volunteering opportunities at SHAPE is welcome to email for more information.

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