Each year, Dimensions and Discovery colleagues nominate a few people we support for a Change Maker certificate, for making a positive difference to their own or others’ lives. This could be anything from running a group to picking up a pint of milk for a neighbour.
Every three months a panel of colleagues and people we support choose one of these nominees to receive a ROC (Recognising Outstanding Contribution) Star Award from Dimensions.
And once a year, one individual is recognised as our Ultimate ROC Star.
I’d like to introduce you to this year’s Ultimate ROC Star: Andy Smyth, who has spent the last decade fundraising in Yeovil!
Paula Dowding – Supported Employment Coordinator for Discovery, has worked with Andy since 2019. She knew she had to nominate him after witnessing his immense passion and dedication for the British Heart Foundation for 10 years.
In that time Andy raised £16,500 standing outside the British Heart Foundation shop, selling their badges at £1 each.
That’s, um, 16,500 badges sold. And with a population of just 45,000, the maths suggests that more than one in three Yeovil residents have bought a badge from Andy. What an extraordinary salesman!
Andy volunteers for 12hrs per week, whatever the weather. We make that over 6000 hours of stand-up volunteering, netting an average of £2.64 per hour for the British Heart Foundation. His dedication is the stuff of legend.
“It’s impossible for Andy to walk down the road without him being greeted by strangers (which he loves!) So the lockdown was hard for him” – Paula Dowding, Supported Employment Officer, Discovery)
When the BHF shop closed, Andy was anxious. He worried about getting stuck back in work he didn’t enjoy in the past.
Paula worked closely with him throughout the pandemic, supporting him through the inevitable changes to his daily life so that when lockdown lifted, Andy had another charity eagerly awaiting his extraordinary dedication and passion.
Now Andy has a new (indoor!) role in the local Cancer Research shop.
That’s where I met him one snowy January morning, wearing a bright-blue uniform and waving at me from inside.
Friendly from the start, excited to show me the ins and outs of his new job – it was great to see him in action.
Andy was confidently, politely serving customers with a smile (even with his mask on!) I asked him what he liked most about his work – and in one heartfelt word, he answered:
Next question: How do you feel about your award?
“Over the moon! Just speechless”
Next question: What did your mum say when you told her?
Staff love working with Andy. They told me his warm sunny disposition never fluctuates and is highly contagious.
He took me over to the diaries display to tell me how he unpacked 300 before Christmas only to have to pack 297 away again as they only needed 3 in the shop!
Andy told this story with a smile and a laugh.
His parting words?
“I love this job! I really, really love this job!”
And it’s true.
He really, really does.
We’ve now asked Andy to join the Discovery council – the group of people we support who help shape Discovery’s priorities. We know he’ll bring enormous ability, passion and humour to the role.
Congratulations on your award Andy, what a ROC star!