Volunteer of the Month - January 2022 - Peter Williams

Posted by Victoria Leedham

“He’s brilliant!” Ask anyone about volunteer Peter Williams and this is what you’re likely to hear.

Peter has been on our books as a volunteer gardener and driver for five years, however his remit and accomplishments extend way beyond those boundaries, and this is actually his second round of volunteering at Hearing Dogs for Deaf People having been previously involved in weekend dog care from 2007 - 2011 with wife Zoe.

Luckily for Hearing Dogs, Peter’s early retirement led him back to us and he has been kind enough to share a huge amount of his time, good nature, veterinary science contacts and business acumen in a wide range of projects from professional mentoring to literally getting his hands dirty most weeks gardening on site.

He’s hardworking, conscientious and someone that can be entirely relied upon. His intrinsic understanding of the machinations of site-based activity, the dynamics of volunteering, and the ins and outs of running an organisation mean that there has been many a situation that Peter has quickly assimilated, smoothed over or found a solution. It’s great to have him around and his presence is often reassuring.

Kevin Game, Community Fundraising Manager, says: “It’s safe to say that Peter is an all-round emitter of calmness no matter how busy or hectic things get, and it rubs off on everyone around him. I always feel better when he’s involved in my events, and often think ‘Peter’s on it, I can walk away now’”. 

No wonder Peter is called upon so often! He’s been involved with setting up the Hearing Dogs stand at Crufts, driven the Pupmobile and trailer to many a Great British Dog Walk, always helps out with event car parking and has been a sought-after volunteer driver for his flexibility and thoughtfulness.

Support Advisor Victoria Callaghan recalls a drive where Peter picked up one of our hearing dog applicants from Gatwick airport, not getting back to base until 10.30pm after kindly waiting for a delayed flight. The passenger fed back that “Peter was amazing and made me feel so safe and comfortable. Despite the late hour, he wasn’t deterred from the return journey to the airport. I’m ever so grateful”.

Victoria concurs: “Peter is a lovely gentleman. Whenever he is asked to pick up any of our applicants, he makes them feel safe and welcomed. Always reliable and practical, which is just what we need!”

Jackie Ilic, EA to Chief Executive, remembers another satisfied customer: “Peter was one of the volunteer drivers who drove a former trustee from Reading train station and back enabling them to attend trustee meetings more easily, given the long distance from their home in the South-West. I understand the conversation flowed freely; as well as his business experience, Peter certainly knows a thing or two about tennis!”

Jackie continues: “Peter is a great all-round volunteer. He was particularly helpful with recommending plants and suppliers when The Grange Restaurant & Gift Shop was first built, and the gardens were being established.”

Which is where Peter is often to now be found. Either gardening himself, warmly chatting to the public about the charity or in a Monty Don role answering all sorts of horticultural questions, which if he can’t answer – a quick call to Zoe will!

Head of Estates & Facilities, Roisin Stewart, sings his praises: “We are so lucky to have Peter supporting us here at The Grange, and not just for the gardening help he offers so willingly. Peter always takes time to see how people are, has a smile ready to share and we really would be lost without him in our volunteer family."

"Peter keeps us all focused and helps plan the gardening timetable for each season. His willingness to help, his horticultural knowledge, organisation skills and warm nature are cherished assets within our dream gardening team. He is always willing to help elsewhere with gazebo building, event parking and marshalling, plus he offers a fair and balanced sounding board for tree and plant consultation across the site."

"He always helps us stay on top of the season’s gardening jobs, offers advice and will research what we need for the garden, sending me links so that I can get what we need ordered."

"I really appreciate his green fingered hard work, organisation skills and unwavering support tending our gorgeous gardens here at The Grange. It’s definitely a team effort, although I must mention his absolutely heroic efforts in single-handedly weeding the much-admired front garden ahead of reopening from lockdown in April last year. He put in many many many hours and toiled methodically through the flower beds to pull up weeds and allow our beautiful English garden to re-emerge and burst into life and colour once again”.

Peter’s dedication to completing tasks, and doing them well, is universally acknowledged. Neil Martin, Maintenance Officer, says: “Peter certainly puts in the hours and is a good man to boot! He’s regularly the last to leave and on numerous occasions he comes in unexpectedly to finish something he’s started, or if favourable weather means he can get a bit more done.”

The reception team are always pleased to see Peter: “He invariably comes to talk to us and is very gentlemanly and caring”, says Lynne. “He thinks to advise us if any new garden volunteers are starting and need to know where he is. Last year he harvested lots of lavender for us to tie into bundles to go in the Gift Shop for customers to take away. People donated generously, so he made money too!”

Suffice as to say Peter keeps an intelligent and kindly eye on what’s going on around him, as well as what needs planning and organising for the future. He welcomes new volunteers to the fold, is generous with his time, and looks out for others. During the pandemic and when there’s been health issues within the gardening team, Peter’s taken the trouble to check in and say hello. Fellow gardening volunteer Phil Woodage recounts: “Peter always asks if I’m alright with what I’m doing. He never fails to lend a hand or say ‘You ok with that Phil?’ as he’s passing."

"Nothing is too much trouble for him. He stays calm, likes to complete things to a high standard and will always offer a cheery ‘Don’t worry, I’ll finish that!’ if needed. I really appreciate how he’s looked out for me; he’s tremendously helpful, professional and kind.”


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About the author

Victoria Leedham

Hello, I'm Victoria and Head of Volunteering for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and Hearing Link. It’s my privilege to celebrate and share stories about our wonderful volunteer family.

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