As part of Volunteer's Week 2023, Inspiring Aberdeenshire Awards' Inspirational Volunteer Morag Lightning talks to AVA about how she has benefited from volunteering in her community after being medically retired from the military.
"Following a career in the Royal Air Force, I returned to live in Turriff after being away for 25 years. Having travelled the world so much with my job, I loved feeling rooted again. I value being part of a community again and decided to volunteer within my community wherever I could.
I was medically retired from the RAF, following a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and having sustained a leg injury in Afganistan, so I knew I would be somewhat restricted as to what I could do. The joy of volunteering means that I can participate at my own level and pace, while making a real contribution.
Very quickly I became involved with setting up several local groups with a view to looking after and improving different areas within Turriff. I seemed to develop a knack for filling our funding applications, and I found I was being asked to help others with the process – some from different towns looking to set up similar groups in their community. This has been immensely satisfying for me as I feel I am not only helping to improve where I live, but I am helping others have the confidence to improve theirs too.
My days are now almost filled with organising, doing paperwork and networking with various organisations, hopefully helping most of the volunteer groups to work with each other for the common good.
This has been great for my self esteem, as being medically retired from my job after over 20 years service, I was left feeling I was no good to anyone as I couldn’t work. After a short period of feeling sorry for myself, I picked myself up and found that I could add things of value to my community, and I feel I have done not too bad a job of improving things for others! Seeing the smile on someone's face when they have visited an area I have helped create makes it all so worthwhile."