Volunteers Ellen and Kev
We first found out about Brain Tumour Support after Ellen’s acoustic neuroma diagnosis in 2015. We didn’t know anything about charities or support back then – not for one moment did we think there would be a support group about 10 miles up the road from where we live!
After the shock of the diagnosis had sunk in a little, Ellen vowed that she wanted to help others not feel as isolated and alone as she had done before finding Brain Tumour Support. She believed she had been given her brain tumour for a reason and volunteering seemed a natural progression because we both wanted to make a difference and give something back.
We have helped out in a variety of ways, but Kev’s main job is dressing up as Humphrey the Hippo! He causes quite a stir when we are out and about, especially on the local busses! One bus journey even resulted in us being invited onto local radio.
Ellen has now been on local radio several times to raise awareness of brain tumours and, with the support of Kev, has also helped raise a lot of money for the charity.
For example, she has taken part in Bandana Day; organised a fundraiser for her 60th birthday party which raised more than £1,000; organised an information stall at her local supermarket; taken part in a motorbike rally; made Christmas decorations for the charity’s Christmas appeal; taken part in a beach walk; and organised a stall at the Mayor’s Charity event in Truro. She has also organised several social events for the Cornwall Support Group which have been such a success that they have inspired other groups to organise similar events.
Being a volunteer for the charity means such a lot to both of us. The charity gives people hope and understanding because it brings people together who are on a similar journey and it also helps put things into perspective. The Truro group is like a unique family rather than friends and everyone helps each other. Being able to be part of that is fantastic.
When it comes to giving advice, we complement each other - Kev can relate and offer advice to 'carers' whereas Ellen has more experience of continuing to live with a brain tumour. In this way, we support the Brain Tumour Support Worker who leads the meetings. If he is busy talking to group members, we can step in and help.
Ellen feels that being a volunteer also gives her a purpose, a sense of independence and a feeling that she may just make a difference to someone. She gets a lot of satisfaction from meeting someone for the first time at a support group meeting who is upset and talking to them - apparently she also gives good hugs!