November 2011: Two dedicated volunteers that have together spent over 20 years volunteering for the Hertfordshire Hearing Advisory Service (HHAS) have made an urgent appeal to Bishop's Stortford residents.
Sawbridgeworth resident Tony Huckle and Bishop's Stortford resident Frank Quarrel are the only two volunteers helping HHAS in the Bishop's Stortford area.
Between the two of them, they visit 11 care homes and sheltered housing developments in Bishop's Stortford and Sawbridgeworth, where they help residents maintain their hearing aids and offering support on coping with hearing loss. Tony and Frank also run the charity's monthly resource centre at the Methodist Church on South Street, Bishop's Stortford, where people can get practical help and support with their hearing aids, as well as free batteries.
"We really do need more volunteers to take the pressure off us," said Frank. "I'm going to be 84 soon and I know that I'll have to stop volunteering at some point. If there wasn't anyone to take over, it would be such a shame.The people we visit often tell us that they wouldn't know what to do if we weren't helping them."
Frank Quarrel, who has two children and four grandchildren, has been volunteering for the charity for 16 years. He said the volunteer role is enjoyable as you can see the difference you're making to people.
"It doesn't take much time to help someone with their hearing aid and it can make such a difference," said Frank. "If someone's hearing aid isn't working, they can feel very isolated as they can't join in any conversations. People are always grateful that you're able to help them."
Tony Huckle, who has two children and one grandchild, has volunteered for the charity for about five years. He particularly enjoys the social side of the volunteer role.
"Although I'm there to help people with their hearing aid, the social side is important too," said Tony. "Many of the people we visit live alone, so you might be their only visitor that day. I enjoy getting to know the people I visit and get a lot of pleasure out of knowing that I've been able to help them."
Gary Appleby, HHAS' Volunteer Co-ordinator, said the charity has fewer volunteers in Bishop's Stortford and Sawbridgeworth than in any other area of Hertfordshire. For example, in the area around Hertford, Ware and Hoddesdon, the charity has seven volunteers visiting 25 care homes and sheltered housing developments. In Bishop's Stortford, there are around 30 establishments that need a hearing volunteer, of which Frank and Tony are currently visiting 11.
"Frank and Tony are doing an amazing job and help so many people at the homes they visit," said Gary. "We could do so much more if we had just a few more volunteers in the area - it would be great if people could consider volunteering for the charity. By giving up just one hour a week, they could make a massive difference to someone's quality of life."
To find out more about volunteering for the charity, contact Gary Appleby on 01707 324 582 or firstname.lastname@example.org.