Third Sector Awards: Volunteer of the Year – John Russell, British Stammering Association, Stamma

Awarded to the volunteer who has displayed the greatest commitment and achievement to a charity or voluntary sector organisation over the past year

Who is he?

John Russell has been raising funds and awareness of the British Stammering Association (the BSA), and now Stamma, for over 25 years. As someone who stammers, John has faced challenges but has seized every opportunity to raise funds for the BSA.

Now in his 60s, John is frail, suffers from arthritis and has dyspraxia as well as a stammer. He has devoted his life to working in care homes and looks after his wife who has learning difficulties.

What has he done?

John’s first fundraising event was a collection at Reading Railway Station in 1994, which raised £123, and since then the charity estimates he has raised around £50,000 by taking part in activities from packing bags at his local supermarket, bucketing at the local pub, running stalls and two skydives.

His invaluable fundraising efforts have helped the charity support more parents of children who stammer, improve and modernise its website and expand its information provision.

What else has he achieved?

John also volunteers on the charity’s helpline, where he provides support and information to worried parents and young people and adults struggling with their speech.

A regular at BSA conferences, he never misses the chance to travel the length and breadth of the UK to show his support. John has also personally championed the subject of stammering and shown year after year, that having a stammer is no different than having any other physical difference.

What did the judges say? “John's passion and dedication are evident here. Such dedication needs recognition and demonstrates the impact that one person can have on such an important cause.”

Highly commended

Anthony Abbott, Special Olympics Great Britain

Finalists

Kathy Thompson, Schoolreaders

Sally Hurman, DKMS Foundation

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