Volunteering: In your words
Branch Contact – Olga Bannister
Olga Bannister, who has been volunteering for the South Yorkshire Branch for 17 years, shares her story and gratitude for the local RCDA, Jane Evans…
“In the 17 years I have known and worked with Jane Evans she has been a constant help and support to me.
She became a Regional Care Advisor with the Motor Neurone Disease Association in 1997 and the following year instigated the setting up of the local South Yorkshire Branch as we know it today. Since then she has been at the centre of the organisation’s work in this area, training Association Visitors to respond appropriately and sensitively to the needs of those with Motor Neurone Disease.
I became a member in March 2001 after my husband died from the disease. I had already spoken to Jane on the telephone and had arranged for her to visit but, unfortunately my husband died before that visit took place. At that difficult time, I found Jane easy to talk to, sympathetic and very understanding of my situation.
I then attended a branch meeting where Professor Pamela Shaw, who had just taken up the post at Sheffield University, gave a talk about Motor Neurone Disease. Jane welcomed me to the meeting and helped me to feel comfortable by introducing me to someone in a similar situation to myself who I sat next to and we shared our experiences. After Professor Shaw’s talk, Jane came over to me to ensure I was ok and showed her trademark empathy.
It was Jane’s enthusiasm and commitment that persuaded me to train as an Association Visitor. Her calm and thoughtful presence helped me through my early visits. Since then she has always been there for me, as she is for everyone affected by MND and all the volunteers in her area. She has an understanding of people’s needs and of which visitor will be compatible with each family. She also understands the emotional toll that being a visitor can take and offers re-assurance and comfort whenever we need it.
Jane remembers all the many people with MND she has helped over the last twenty years. The families she has supported often tell me how much they appreciate her caring approach and tireless commitment to putting the needs of others first.
I know I can always turn to Jane for invaluable advice and wisdom and feel privileged to call her my friend.”