PATERSON’S VOLUNTEERING EFFORTS PROVIDES SILVER LINING

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Ross Paterson should have been making final preparations for his wedding this Saturday, but last year’s European bronze medallist has instead been putting his unplanned available time to the best possible use in playing a part in a campaign to help those less fortunate in the community in which he works. 

And in explaining what he is doing to help promote National Volunteering Week (1-7 June), the 36-year-old Grand Slam winning skip has admitted that, as disappointing as missing out on his own big day has been, those efforts have helped him realise just how fortunate he still is. 

Paterson and his fiancée Sarah had been planning to celebrate their nuptials in a marquee on team mate Kyle Waddell’s family farm which should have taken place this weekend. However like countless others across the UK they have had to postpone their wedding due to the current Covid-19 pandemic.

“Sarah and I knew that once the lockdown came into force the likelihood of our wedding going ahead was looking unlikely, so we had time to deal with that disappointment,” said Paterson.

“We sent out postponement messages a few weeks ago and hope that we can stick to our original plans for this time next year.” 

In the meantime, Paterson - who steered his team to 12th place in the world rankings after their final event last season, while juggling his elite curling career with his work as a Trading Standards Officer - also agreed to take on additional voluntary work for his employers, East Dunbartonshire Council.

“The council asked if any of us would be keen to make calls to those within the community who are shielding and isolated and in need of some form of support. Some of my colleagues and I agreed that we would be keen to do this and for a few weeks now have started making regular contact with those who have not been able to leave their home for 12 or 13 weeks now,” he continued.

“That is a long time to be in isolation and it certainly made me realise how fortunate I have been. Having the routine of my job albeit now adjusting to doing that at home and my training regime also takes place at home but both have given me plenty of things to focus on, in what has been a challenging period of adjustment for everyone.

“It is great what the council has set up and I am sure there are others who are doing the same across the country. East Dunbartonshire recognised that there were individuals who would be feeling very lonely during this period and it has been great to help those who have been so grateful for a chat and have some contact with someone. 

“Making that first call it was about making sure they were getting all the essential services they needed like medicine deliveries or food parcels and any other required support. Then it was about finding a common interest or something to talk about which has helped to build up a rapport and a friendship.

“The pandemic and lockdown has been extremely difficult for everyone to adjust to, but it is nice to know that there is also some good coming out of this situation. I know my colleagues who have also volunteered to do this feel the same way. There is a more connected and joined up feeling within the community, a greater sense of everyone pulling together and supporting each other during these very different times.

“In my regular job I often have contact with those who have been subject to some kind of scam and often they are vulnerable adults. This is slightly different to the day job and it has been nice to make those calls and know they are looking forward to the next conversation.”

Paterson is also philosophical about the postponed wedding this weekend.

“We are in the same situation as so many others who have had to cancel or postpone wedding plans. Sarah and I both have elderly relatives on both sides of the family and we want them to enjoy the day when it happens and we don’t want the fear of them getting unwell by being a part of that,” he noted.

“It will happen when it can and hopefully everyone will be fit and well and be able to enjoy it when it does happen. But for now, it is good to know that volunteers across the country are providing a connection or in some case a lifeline to those most in need and that puts everything into perspective.

“The gratitude you get in return is pretty immense, it is the right thing to do so if you can spare a bit of time to help someone locally you won’t regret it. We can all do our bit.”

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