Why I volunteer: Scarlett Parr-Reid
"I first heard about the MND Association in March of 2018, through an email sent out to the medical sciences cohort by Senior Lecturer and Module Lead at the University of Exeter, Dr. Emma Taylor. Dr. Taylor outlined the volunteering opportunity and suggested that students get in touch with Volunteering Development Co-Ordinator, Jo Campbell, to express interest. I knew that this would be a worthwhile opportunity to support a great cause and develop my understanding of the terminal illness that is MND. So, realising that the Exeter and East Devon branch did not have a local newsletter, I jumped at the opportunity to start one up, so we could compile fundraising endeavours, research and events all in one place. Particularly, as I am keen to build up a portfolio of work in science communication, my chosen career path, this was a great way to network, interview key figures and enhance my writing skills.
Once I became a member of the charity, the opportunities that came my way were incredible. I have since attended the Association’s regional conference and had the pleasure of speaking about my volunteering experience at the 2019 national conference. This built up my confidence in public speaking and allowed me to share my journey and all that I have learnt so far with others.
Our biannual newsletter, You, Me and MND, the second issue of which just recently came out, includes interviews with our Director of Research Development, Dr. Brian Dickie, as well as an interview with Roboticist, Activist and Author who lives and thrives with MND, Dr. Peter Scott Morgan. Interviewing individuals such as these has been one of the most exciting parts of what I do as a volunteer for the branch. I love to listen to people’s stories, what makes them keep fighting and why they do what they do. Moreover, interviewing Simon Holland, who supported his wife living with MND, was very special to me and Kristin Allan, who joined me that day, as we witnessed his testimony to the hard work and dedication of the charity’s Association Visitors. Hearing about how the MND Association has cared for individuals with MND at a one-to-one level, as well as supported families, is so heart-warming and reminds me of just why I joined the Association.
What has always stood out and humbled me as a volunteer is the sheer determination and optimism that so many with MND and their carers emanate. It’s empowering and something I always strive to capture in my writing.
As a university student, now entering my final year of study, I am conscious of the fact that I will be leaving the institution soon, and so plan to leave a legacy with our local newsletter. Therefore, I will be mentoring fellow students and others who plan to volunteer for this position, as a way of passing on my knowledge and experience and outlining exactly why capturing people’s stories, celebrating fundraising and highlighting key research is so vital for the public and those living with MND."
Written by Scarlett Parr-Reid
Volunteer Newsletter Editor for the Exeter & East Devon branch