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Posted on Aug 25 2023 by Fiona Bailey

A man who has dedicated 40 years of his life to volunteering says a childhood experience made him realise he was set to help people for the rest of his life.

Roger Brewer, who has been a volunteer at St Andrew’s Healthcare since 1983, says meeting an orphan when he was aged just nine had a profound effect on him.

The 79-year-old said: “One of my earliest memories was meeting a boy who was from an orphanage. At the time I had no idea what an orphanage was. When the child explained to me the concept, I really struggled to comprehend that he had no family to look after him.

“I was overwhelmed by the feeling of empathy at the idea that a little boy didn’t have a home. It lit a light within my heart which I remember thinking at the time that I wanted to help as many people as I could throughout my life.”

And Roger has certainly kept that promise as he has helped hundreds of people during his volunteering tenure at the Northampton mental health charity.

Roger’s commitment to volunteering, which also includes him going into prison to visit inmates, saw him make a huge lifestyle change by quitting his job and moving house.

He said: “My late wife Ann and I decided we wanted to commit more of our time to helping others, so I resigned from my job as a Store Manager and took a lesser role elsewhere. We then moved from our large, lovely house by the sea in Bournemouth to Northamptonshire and have not looked back since.

“It’s a privilege to help people and make a difference in their lives. I really find seeing the patients’ progress over time really fulfilling. Additionally, I like to feel useful and by being part of the St Andrew’s team, I feel like I am contributing. Plus I love spending time with people.”

As part of his volunteering duties, Roger will be serving refreshments and manning a stand at the forthcoming  FestiVol event, which is taking place on Saturday, September 2 at Workbridge between 1230pm and 330pm.

The aim of the afternoon, which is free to attend, is to showcase various charities across Northamptonshire and to highlight the importance of volunteering, whilst celebrating those who are already in the roles. Attendees can also enjoy a festival theme with live music, food and shop arts and craft, as well as attractions such as motorbikes, show cars, free mediation and a drumming circle. 

A father of one, Roger is a unique person as his interests are hugely varied. He has an O’level in Punjabi and speaks, writes and teaches it as a language to many. In addition, he also speaks Gujurati, Urdu and Hindi as well. In addition, he teaches piano and is also a Marriage Registrar and an Ordained Minister.

Voluntary Services Manager Dawn Wright said: “Roger is such a valued member of the team. I don’t know many 79-year-olds who are so busy. He is a rare breed as he has a deep connection with our patients and he cares very deeply for them and he is still in touch with five former patients who he befriended here years ago. We’re so grateful to Roger and to all our volunteers for donating their precious time to us.

“As a mental health charity, we’re in the business of hope and our volunteers give hope to our patients every single day. I hope as many people across the county can come along and visit FestiVol, it’s set to be a really fun, community event which is open to everyone.”

Cancer Research, Deaf Connect, Family Support Link, Kelly's Heroes, Mind, Motor Neurone Disease, NAYC (Northampton Association of Youth Clubs), NDAS (Northampton Domestic Abuse Service), NGH (Northampton General Hospital), St Andrew's Voluntary Services, Volunteer Passport, the Flavour Trailer, the Cocktail and Cupcake Club, Jute Coffee Hut, Mario’s Ice Cream and Workbridge Services will all be in attendance at the event which is being held at Workbridge.