A TIRELESS volunteer has won a prestigious award for his work is raising awareness of heart disease.
Michael Roper, of Prestwick Road, Pennywell, has been named as the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) Volunteer of the Year.
The 61-year-old, who started suffering from heart problems 15 years ago, decided he wanted to help raise awareness of the illness.
The Sunderland branch, of which Michael is secretary, raised £12,000 last year despite having fewer members than it has in the past.
The news comes as part of this week’s Volunteers Week celebrations.
His regional award has been handed to him for a decade of outstanding service as secretary of the Sunderland branch of the charity.
He described himself as “chuffed” to be given the honour.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do half of what I have done without the help of my wife Carol and the volunteers of the branch,” said Michael.
“There aren’t many of us, but we do what we can.”
The retired school caretaker, who is a dad of four and granddad of five, added: “I have made some wonderful friends and have so many lovely memories.
“I would encourage anyone to volunteer for the BHF as it is such a rewarding experience and lots and lots of fun.
“We have a lot of support as volunteers and there are lots of things you can do to get involved.”
Fiona Turner, fund-raising volunteer manager in Sunderland, paid tribute to Michael’s work, saying he fully deserves the recognition.
She said: “He is always at the forefront of all events and seems to effortlessly juggle numerous tasks at a time to help bring in as much money as possible.
“Michael has a large extended family and they all get dragged into BHF one way or another.
“He is a true gentleman and the best supporter BHF could possibly want.
“If we had more Michaels,BHF would be even better than we are.”
Fiona also urged other Wearsiders who may be interested in becoming a volunteer to take Michael’s story as inspiration.
“I would love for other people to follow Michael’s example,” she said. “There are so many ways you can support us, from helping with local fund-raising to volunteering in any of our shops.
“You could put on your own event to raise money or even campaign to protect the UK’s heart health.”
For more about volunteering for the BHF go to www.bhf.org.uk/volunteer or contact Fiona Turner at email@example.com or by calling 01642 562162.
Twitter: @david allison88