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Interviewer:  Paul, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Paul:  I work in a surveyor’s office and just nine to five job.  Outdoors I’m into cycling and stuff like that.  That’s really how I got involved.  Once the Giro D’Italia event came over, I signed up to it and then got more involved in these sort of events.  It was a baptism of fire that one, team leader and stuff.  It’s good to get out and, you know, meet people and go different places, really.

Interviewer:  And what are your other passions?  What do you like to do in your free time?

Paul:  A bit of hill walking, but at home I’m generally a gardener.  It’s hard at the moment to really go anywhere.  It’s risky so I just keep around the house and take the wee dog for a walk and stuff.

Interviewer:  And you’ve already mentioned, but could you tell us more about the first time you’ve volunteered with Volunteer Now?

Paul:  First time I think it was a couple years ago when the Giro D’Italia arrived and visited Belfast.  And just up the road from us.  That was good, a lot of skills learnt, like the radios and communicating with the teams and see how busy it actually is when you’re a team leader.  That was a good few days and I’ve got plenty of people I’m still in contact with since then, that I have met back probably five or six years ago.

Interviewer:  How did you decide to get involved?  What motivated you?

Paul:  To do something else other than just the normal job.  I think rather than being stuck in Newry, you get to meet other people.  And you get to be in Portrush with the golf and just the whole big variety of different things really.  Good for the mind as well, just to be out and about.

Interviewer:  Do you have any funny stories or any interesting stories from your experience of volunteering?

Paul:  Some of the events are quite hard to get to.  I didn’t have a car for the first couple of years.  The golf events near took me half of the day really to get there – buses and trains, and walking and trying to thumb a lift and different things, but that’s great memories as well.

Interviewer:  Is there anything else you would like to add: some word of advice or encouragement?

Paul:  I think a lot of people should do it.  Especially at the moment down in Craigavon (Covid-19 Vaccination Centre) you’re meeting all sorts of people.  And because you’re helping when you’re volunteering they’re just thanking you all the time and they’re grateful for any help we can give them.  Welcoming people and making sure when they leave they are happy with everything just creates a good feeling or something.  I know people go away and like, “Oh, that was a great event, you know, we’ll come back again and tell people about it”.  If we’re friendly to people we then get friendly people back to you.

Interviewer:  Are you volunteering in Craigavon Vaccination Centre?

Paul:  Yeah, I started there mid-January.  It’s hard enough because of my job, so I try and do every other weekend.  And then if Raquel rings me up I’ll do another shift.  I’ve met people there that I was in university with 20 years ago.  You bump into them first time in 20 years.  I met one last Saturday.  He’s living in Dublin now, but must have been able to get the vaccine up here.  So it’s good to see people.

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