Richard Byrt, volunteer at Nottinghamshire Healthcare, is a finalist in the prestigious Kathryn Burgess Volunteer of the Year Award at The VAL Awards 2023. The VAL awards celebrate the fantastic contribution volunteers, charities and community groups make in Leicester and Leicestershire.
Richard was nominated for his unwavering dedication and profound impact as a volunteer visitor (befriender) at Arnold Lodge, medium secure unit, which he has done for over a decade. His selfless contributions have left an indelible mark on both the patients and the scheme itself.
Adele Fox, Forensic Care Group Director at Nottinghamshire Healthcare said:
“Congratulations to Richard on being a finalist in these awards. Richard's impact as a volunteer is immeasurable. He has set a shining example for all volunteers and deserves to be recognised and celebrated for his extraordinary contributions. Wishing him the best of luck for the ceremony”.
Richard's journey as a volunteer at Arnold Lodge commenced in 2012 when he became the very first volunteer visitor at our facility. His commitment has been nothing short of exemplary, and he has been matched with a male patient, providing consistent companionship and support over the years.
Richard said: “I feel very humbled and surprised to be a finalist, but am pleased that Arnold Lodge and the Trust will be recognised at the Voluntary Action for Leicestershire awards ceremony. I appreciate the many contributions of so many volunteers, as well as staff and managers in Arnold Lodge and other services in the Trust; and of volunteers in diverse organisations in Leicester and Leicestershire.
“I am very grateful for the opportunity to volunteer at Arnold Lodge. My thanks to the patients I have visited, to other volunteers, staff and managers at Arnold Lodge; and to Jo and other managers and staff in the Trust's Involvement, Experience and Volunteering Team. I appreciate the support of you all.”
The primary objectives of our scheme within the Trust are to enhance the quality of life for isolated patients and reduce social isolation while offering relevant and stimulating activities to promote social rehabilitation. Richard has consistently exceeded these goals. He has not only coaxed his matched patient out of his shell but has also brought joy and enthusiasm to his life. The patient now eagerly anticipates Richard's fortnightly visits, takes pride in his personal appearance on these days, and actively participates in various activities planned during their time together.
The impact of Richard's presence is best reflected in the words of his matched patient, who has frequently nominated him for recognition: "It helps me feel not so lonely. It gives me hope to carry on going." "Helps to keep in touch with the outside." "The days drag when you're on the ward - having R come around cheers me up."
Richard's dedication extends beyond his long-term match, as he has volunteered with several other patients, even when they moved to other organisations or locations. He continued to write to them and offer his support, emphasizing his exceptional commitment and willingness to go the extra mile.