Back in May 2017, I was privileged enough to be selected as the Deputy Mayor of Macclesfield and am now in the final two months of my term. Words can’t express how immensely proud I am to represent Macclesfield at so many events on behalf of the Mayor, it’s a role that I have a huge amount of respect for and hope I have done this historic civic position proud. The current Deputy Mayor’s chain was presented to the town by Alderman W.B. Brocklehurst on 3rd June 1925 and it fills me with pride every time I wear it.
It has been a wonderful experience and I would like to share a few of the organisations/events that I have represented the Mayor at, when invited to see the great work they do in Macclesfield.
I can’t name every organisation that I have visited, they’ve all been great and do amazing work in Macclesfield, but there are three that I would like to speak about that show the variety of the invitations received.
In December, I attended the SEALS AGM and was delighted to see the impact that their club has on so many people and just how selfless their volunteers are (as all volunteers are!). They are primarily a swimming club, open to those with any disability, providing a safe, supportive and dignified environment to swim or to simply enjoy being in the water. They have been active for 60 years and whilst at the AGM I was able to see in person how special and devoted the volunteers were and was able to speak directly to some of the club members. This is MUCH more than a swimming club; it gives confidence, support and an amazing friendship network to those who might not be too comfortable in and around the water.
I was delighted to attend Sylk Dance on behalf of the Mayor to open their new dance studio on Union Street. Putting themselves firmly into the community seems to be the ethos of Sylk Dance and they have kindly supported several town events with their dance showcases.
Encouraging the youth of our town to exercise and keep fit is a priority for the council and we always like to support the various leisure clubs in our town and have had a fantastic uptake with our FREE street sports every week.
I have also represented the Mayor at two events for the Macclesfield Lions club. I have previous experience of the Crewe Lions club from my youth and I know that they do an ‘unsung’ amount of fundraising for the local community. Last year the Macclesfield Lions raised over £16,000 for local charities and organisations in and around Macclesfield through various event’s like their ‘Swimarathon’ which has raised over £140,000 since its launch.
It is a great club with members always keen to get involved in the fundraising and I was saddened to hear that their membership intake was slowing down. Unfortunately, it is a common theme in many charitable clubs and organisations. Are we just all too busy to get involved with clubs and voluntary organisation? Do we assume that enough people are volunteering so we need not, or do we simply just not know where to go when we have regular spare hours in our week?
From my time spent as Deputy Mayor, I can honestly say that I have been overwhelmed by the wealth of volunteers that we are blessed with in Macclesfield, though I’m sure they would always welcome additional help. All of the volunteers that I have met have been passionate and dedicated to their cause and primarily get involved as they have personal experience or a passion for the charity/organisation which they have decided to dedicate their time too.
Volunteer age range was a huge surprise, it’s vast. You don’t need to be retired to volunteer! I’ve met young volunteers who work full time and have families to look after, in fact my mum is celebrating her 50 years with the Girl Guiding Association this year and she has always volunteered whist working and looking after my sister and I as we grew up. From personal experience, her passion for volunteering often took a bit of a toll on us, it took lots of her weekends and weeknights but looking back I couldn’t be prouder of her for giving so much of her life to her passion and hope I can give even a fraction of what she has given to Crewe back to Macclesfield myself.
I have a bit of a legacy to keep up with in my family when it comes to volunteering my time; along with my mum above, my grandad volunteered his time in the Lions club for most of his life and my grandma was a founding member the ‘Crewe Deaf Society’, giving many years of her life to help improve the lives of the deaf community, helping those just like her. I was brought up to give my time freely to help those in need, often found at a Lions, Guiding or Deaf Society fundraiser with my cousins on a weekend. My voluntary role on Macclesfield Town Council is driven by my desire to help make a difference and to follow on from my family led examples.
Well, I’ve digressed from talking about my time as Deputy Mayor to the huge difference that volunteers make to our community. You may not notice what they do but I guarantee that you’d notice if they stopped.
There are a lot of people who like to complain that there “isn’t this” or there “isn’t that”, but unless people step up there never will be. The Barnaby festival is a great example. Everybody loves it but if all of the volunteers walked away then it wouldn’t happen, simple as that. As a community we really need to take ownership of where we live and this means that we may have to put ourselves out every now and then, giving up a weekend or a couple of evenings every month to help improve our community for the benefit of others.
I’ve visited youth and senior groups, heritage groups, leisure groups and community groups; all of these rely heavily on volunteers and I’m sure if you have a few spare hours in a week then you and your time would be most welcome. The biggest obstacle to volunteering is underestimating what you are able to offer. I’ve spoken to so many who say “I have nothing to offer” which is nonsense. We ALL have something to offer, you may not realise what you have. I can pretty much guarantee that if you have the passion and commitment, then there will be a group out there for you to share your time with and really make a difference to the lives of others.
So, in summary, as Deputy Mayor, I have had a great year so far and have met some amazing community groups, but most of all, I have been humbled by meeting some of the volunteers that work so hard to make our community better for everybody, never for reward or recognition.
This brings me nicely onto the Mayor’s Civic Awards 2018 where Cllr. Beverley Dooley, our current Mayor, will award volunteer groups and individuals, who have been publicly nominated, and who successfully become the winner of their category, with a civic award from Macclesfield Town Council.
This is a small token of recognition to let the winners, and nominees alike, know that they have been noticed, they are making a difference and we truly thank them for all they do to help Macclesfield become a better place to live, work and enjoy.
Adam Schofield is a Councillor for the Macclesfield West & Ivy Ward