I recently caught up with one of our 2014/15 Excellence Scholars, Josh Mayers, who is now a second year student on our BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science degree.
Josh was awarded an Excellence Scholarship in recognition of his tremendous volunteering work, from coaching tennis to young children, to volunteering in a cancer information and support centre, and completing charity work for Camp Project Wales and Age UK.
While much of Josh’s voluntary work was undertaken completing Duke of Edinburgh awards, Josh also now has an Excellence Scholarship to add to his CV.
“I decided to volunteer as part of my Bronze Duke of Edinburgh award. As I really enjoyed sport, I decided to approach the school tennis coach to ask if I could assist him with extra curricular activities coaching primary school children. This role involved leading little warm-up games with small groups, setting up the equipment for the sessions and teaching key tennis skills such as the serve, a forehand stroke, backhand, volley, slice and smash. I thoroughly enjoyed working alongside a tennis coach to learn how to work with young children, as this is something I have considered as a career in the future. I enjoyed it so much that I continued with this volunteering for both my Bronze and Silver awards.
As I began my Gold Duke of Edinburgh award I decided to undertake a new challenge. As cancer had unfortunately touched our family, I decided to volunteer at the Macmillan Delamere Cancer Information and Support Centre. This centre receives very little funding and therefore relies heavily on volunteer support and fundraising events.
During my volunteer service at the Delamere Centre I was involved with a number of different tasks including interacting with patients and relatives whilst providing refreshments, producing posters and tickets for fundraising events, and creating spreadsheets to record charitable donations received. I was then asked by the Centre Manager to continue my voluntary work helping a personal trainer as part of a new cancer rehabilitation programme. This work required me to work on a one-to-one basis with the patients, providing support, stability and guidance whilst they took part in activities (which I’d also helped to set up).
The Gold Duke of Edinburgh award is very challenging, particularly as it involves a residential for which I volunteered at a local charity ‘Camp Project Wales’. This is a local charity that provides annual holidays for disadvantaged children; a fantastic cause. I attended monthly planning meetings, assisted with fundraising events and attended the 10-day camp itself. During the camp, I worked with a designated group of children supervising outdoor activities such as canoeing, rounders, football and swimming sessions. It was great seeing these children engaged and having fun!
After completing my GCSEs, I was keen to find part-time work over the summer holidays which was difficult due to a lack of experience. I therefore decided to volunteer at my local Age UK shop to gain some valuable work experience, as I believed this would show my commitment and dedication to a prospective employer. My duties included receiving donations, arranging displays and putting stock out, pressing clothing, assisting customers and working on the till.
It was all of these experiences that I included in my scholarship application. I never imagined the application would be successful as I knew it would be very competitive so I was overwhelmed when I found out. The scholarships has helped with me with my travel costs so I have been able to continue with my voluntary work.
I am now in my second year at Edge Hill University. I absolutely loved every minute of my first year and would love to do it all over again! I lived on campus for my first year and had a ball meeting loads of new people and making friends for life. It has been challenging at times as the course has been difficult, getting my head around referencing and meeting assignment deadlines. These have not been the only challenging things about University. I have had to learn how to budget my money and start looking after myself, doing my own washing and ironing. Before starting University I didn’t even know how to use a washing machine!”