HUNDREDS turned out in spite of the wet weather for an annual event celebrating Rotherham’s army of volunteers.
The Big Walk, organised by Voluntary Action Rotherham, set off around the town centre from All Saints’ Square last Tuesday afternoon, with up to 500 people taking part.
VAR services manager Julie Adamson said: “It is important for us to celebrate the unsung heroes who give so much to our town and the Big Walk is just a little something to recognise them and say thank you.
“We thought the weather might put some people off but it was the biggest and best walk yet.
“There are 49,500 regular volunteers in Rotherham, those are the ones we know about and these people deserve to be thanked and recognised because without them our town would grind to a halt.
“I don’t think people are often aware that when they access many services they are being helped by volunteers, and whole projects are led and run entirely by volunteers.”
The mounted section, cadets, and specials from South Yorkshire Police were among the volunteers taking part.
Chief Supt Rob Odell, Rotherham district commander, said: “We have lots of enthusiastic, energetic, volunteers performing important roles with the police.
“These people give up their free time to assist with community engagement, test purchasing and crime prevention, among other activities. They’re a real asset to our force.”
The event began with a short ceremony at Rotherham Minster where Mr Odell and the Mayor of Rotherham, Cllr Eve Rose Keenan, spoke to the volunteers before their walk around town, accompanied by the Sheffield Pipe Band.
After returning to the historic church, they were addressed and thanked by the Vicar of Rotherham, Canon David Bliss, before a performance by St Paul’s Community Choir.
Julie added: “Tesco provided some fruit and healthy refreshment, Mears sent some young apprentices to wear mascot costumes and staff from solicitors Irwin Mitchell acting as buddies to keep the mascots safe.
“This event has been months in the planning, with a team working since October to get all the little details right.”