They came from near and far across Norfolk and beyond to answer the call of the county’s High Sheriff James Bagge to celebrate volunteering.
It was a Thursday evening in St Nicholas Chapel, Lynn, that was at times moving as volunteers shared with an audience including many civic leaders and the Bishop of Norwich, the Very Revd Graham James, what helping others had given them.
People like Tom Wright, a young man whose life was turned upside down late in 2012 when on the way to work on his motorbike he was in collision with a taxi on the Pullover roundabout on the A47 in Lynn.
He suffered terrible head injuries which meant he could never work again.
But keen to help others he has found himself welcomed with open arms by Headway in Lynn as a volunteer.
He said: “I feel welcomed as more of a family member than a volunteer.”
Bishop Graham said that being in the beautiful St Nicholas Chapel with its angels in the architecture was appropriate.
“There are some real live angels here,” he said, of the volunteers.
Mr Bagge said: “Without those who give of their time to help others, the merry-go-round would simply stop turning.”
Volunteers from organisations such as the West Norfolk Befrienders, Solace, in Lynn, Hunstanton Food Bank, Lynn Citizens’ Advice, the St John Ambulance, SERV, and the Special Constabulary, testified to the benefit they had got from helping others.
Michelle Howlett, a one-time keen ballroom dancer who volunteers for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Keeping Abreast after recovering from cancer and a nasty road accident herself, said: “I’m glad to have been given the chance to be a volunteer. I’m even dancing again which I did not think I would do.”
Mr Bagge’s neighbour Kit Hesketh-Harvey was compere, introducing music with the emphasis on youth, through rock band Jessie’s Ghost and the folk act Georgia Shackleton Trio. The Springfield Band contributed throughout the evening.
Mr Bagge started by declaring “This is my party” and said he had chosen an off-the-wall number for the evening to end before the reception.
The tune was Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Poker Dot Bikini, which he said he had heard as the final number at the funeral of a friend of his and thought was absolutely appropriate to put people in the party mood.S