Volunteers set to have a ‘ton of fun’

Volunteers for local charity Havens Hospices are counting down the weeks until a herd of elephants charge into the city.

The sculptures will be part of an unforgettable art trail, Herd In The City, taking to the streets of Southend-on-Sea, Leigh-on-Sea and Shoeburyness from the 14th of July until the 4th of September.

The volunteers, or ‘volunt-eles’ as they are known, will be looking after the gentle giants throughout the trail, ensuring they are clean and well-maintained, reporting any issues to the charity, and engaging with trail-goers.

Diane Burgess, 74, from Leigh-on-Sea, is one of the many ‘volunt-eles’ supporting the charity. A retired HR manager for a secondary school, Diane has been volunteering at Fair Havens for six years and helping at events when she can.

In 2021, Diane volunteered for the charity’s previous art trail, Hares About Town. She said, “I already volunteered for Havens Hospices and help out at their events, so volunteering for Hares About Town was just another way for me to support the charity.

“I really enjoyed talking to lots of different people outside in the fresh air. It was also a great opportunity to start up conversations with the trail goers about how they were enjoying the trail as well as raising awareness of Havens Hospices.”

Talking about the reason she decided to volunteer this year, she says, “I decided to volunteer again for this year’s trail, Herd In The City, because I enjoyed it so much before. I mean, let’s face it, walking along the seafront, sun shining – what’s not to like about that?”

When asked what she was most looking forward to, Diane said, “I saw some of the designs when I was helping out in the office and thought they were amazing. I am looking forward to actually seeing them. It’s a great experience and a chance to get your steps up!”

At the end of the trail, the elephants will be sold at auction to raise vital funds for the free, specialist care and support Havens Hospices provides for people of all ages and their families living with incurable conditions. The charity’s last art trail in 2021, ‘Hares About Town,’ raised more than £447,000 for local hospice care.

Diane says, “I think it’s important to volunteer for Havens Hospices because it’s a chance to support a very worthwhile charity. The care and support they provide the local community is exceptional – it’s for the whole family. I would certainly encourage anyone who thinks they could benefit from support from a hospice to find out more.”

The local charity is still recruiting ‘volunt-eles’ to help look after the herd and give a minimum of four hours of their time per week, between the hours of 10am and 2pm or 2pm and 6pm on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday during the trail. The role would suit those aged 16 and over who are positive, confident and enthusiastic communicators. It involves walking, so a good level of fitness is needed.

Full training and support will be provided throughout the trail. As a thank you for supporting the trail, ‘volunteles’ will receive limited edition merchandise and be invited to the ‘Farewell’ event in September.

If you think you are up to the ‘tusk’, find out more and apply online to be ‘volunt-ele.’

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Lady standing next to large blue hare sculpture