Gerry started volunteering with RNID in 2003. As someone with hearing loss who’d been wearing hearing aids for many years, Gerry felt that by becoming a volunteer he could easily relate to people looking for support.
Since then, Gerry has been involved in more volunteering roles than you could count! He supports people with their hearing aids at drop-in clinics and through home visits, delivering talks and providing information to the community, which included a monthly stand at the local hospital. Over the years, he’s been supporting the charity in uncountable ways, including with fundraising activities, street collections, and raising awareness in the media.
Gerry is now retired but spent over 40 years working as a press photographer in Northern Ireland. In his spare time he used to be a referee and even officiated at the ‘George Best Testimonial’ football match in Belfast in 1988. About his many volunteering roles, and the highlights of his experience of nearly two decades, Gerry says:
“I particularly enjoy helping the many people who come to us for support, and seeing the difference we can make to their lives. So many people return to our information stands to tell us that they’re going out again to attend events they’d once stopped going to, because they couldn’t hear what was being said or join in the conversation. This is the greatest news a volunteer could receive – it means we’ve really had an impact on the people we aim to support.”
Of the many people Gerry has supported during his long volunteering journey, one particular story still resonates:
“On one of my home visits I once went to see a man who lived on his own in a rural area, confined to bed with health problems, without any family around. Days felt long and lonely, so when I managed to fix his hearing aids and showed him how to make the loop system work with the TV, his reaction was so heartwarming. I was repaid with the biggest smile and he couldn’t stop thanking me. This is what volunteering is all about – helping people.”
In 2017, Gerry’s dedication and commitment to the charity led him to win the RNID Passion in Action Award for Northern Ireland – a recognition for always going the extra mile and for all his efforts and incredible contribution to supporting people living with hearing loss in his community.
Gerry has continued volunteering throughout the pandemic by supporting hearing aid user support sessions in his local area, where he provides retubing, new batteries, and helps hearing aid users get the best from their hearing aids and stay connected to those around them.