We met for a chat with Colin Ralph who volunteers for our fundraising team. Colin works alongside Linda who is our Database Gift Administrator in the Fundraising Team. The pair oversee the management of the collection tins for Cobalt. There are around 170 collection tins in circulation at any given time.
Colin moved to Cheltenham from London in 1966 and worked for Eagle Star as an accountant until taking early retirement in 1993. We talk to him about what it is like to be a Cobalt volunteer and what his role includes.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to volunteer with Cobalt
I joined as a volunteer for Cobalt in the January of 1994. I was looking for some volunteer work after retirement. I joined Cotswold Hospital Radio and then I saw an advert in the local paper asking for volunteers at Cobalt sorting Christmas cards.
I knew nothing about the charity before I came here. I was a volunteer for Insight (formerly Gloucestershire County Association for the Blind) and am now a hospital volunteer.
In my spare time I am involved with Gotherington Cricket Club. I’ve been a member there for a number of years. I also sit on the schools admissions appeal panels, hearing the appeals and helping make the decisions.
Cobalt is a very worthy charity to support. However, a lot of people don’t realise it’s a charity. When I first joined, the services Cobalt provided were much less than they are now. Cobalt are doing so much, particularly in the area of dementia.
What’s a typical mornings’ work for you?
I arrive in the morning and meet up with Linda who is the Database Gift Administrator in the fundraising team. We gather in all of the coin collection tins and sort the contents through a specialist coin counting machine. It’s a great big contraption that does the job for us and sorts the coins into different denominations. The contents of each collecting tin is counted up. It is then bagged up for banking. We then have to make a record as to how much that person, group or organisation has collected. Linda then notifies the supporters, if they want her to, of how much was there. Some people just ask for an annual notification. It is then all brought together for banking.
Would you agree that volunteering is a great excuse to get out and meet people?
I meet some of the other volunteers annually through the card sorting. There’s a good team who come in. They are a good crowd. Volunteering is a great means of filling your time. If you are retired you might think, well what am I going to do? I did have my garden but I didn’t feel I could fill my time gardening 12 months of the year! You’ve got to go out and do something, especially if you are on your own. Tuesdays and Saturdays are the only days I don’t do something.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve found in a collection tin?
Parking tokens and a 10p coin with a hole drilled through the middle of it!
If Colins’ story inspires you then come and have a chat with us about volunteering opportunities here at Cobalt. Contact Kirsty on firstname.lastname@example.org