National Volunteers' Week 2024: Opportunities in West Dunbartonshire

Levengrove Parkrun volunteer Karen Nicol with young athlete Felicity Kelly
-Credit: (Image: Daren Borzynski)

This week marks the 40th anniversary of National Volunteers’ Week, celebrating the amazing contributions volunteers make to communities across the country.

In West Dunbartonshire there are an army of thousands who give up their free time to help make a difference in the community.

Around a third of adults locally volunteer - and Daren Borzynski of West Dunbartonshire Community and Volunteering Services (WDCVS) hopes that highlighting the range of opportunities available can help boost that figure further.

He said: “Around 1 in 3 adults regularly volunteer in West Dunbartonshire. So why not join them?Volunteers are crucial to the over 700 local third sector groups and charities providing valuable services across our communities. They rely on your time, commitment, skills and knowledge so offering even one hour a week can make a real difference.

“Anyone can volunteer. There are hundreds of opportunities available, and we can help you find the one that’s right for you.”

If you could help or just want to know more, call WDCVS on 0141 941 0886 or email them at

Gerry McElroy took his first steps in volunteering at the Levengrove Parkrun.
Gerry McElroy took his first steps in volunteering at the Levengrove Parkrun. -Credit:Daren Borzynski

Gerry McElroy Levengrove Parkrun

Parkruns are on the increase across Scotland – but did you know they are run by volunteers? One such volunteer is Gerry.

He said: “I’ve been volunteering for a couple of years at the Levengrove Parkrun, covering several roles from marshalling to timekeeping.

“To be honest, my wife volunteered me for it. I did a couple of runs with them, and heard they were crying out for volunteers. I can run any other day during the week, so I thought I would help out to keep the event going.”

Gerry was new to volunteering but pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to get involved.

He continued: “I hadn’t done any volunteering before, but you hear so much about it. I didn’t think it would be so easy to do, it’s a great group of people to volunteer with.

“There is a great community spirit with the volunteers and the runners. The common social denominator is that everyone wants to be part of a fun event.

“You meet so many different people while volunteering, just recently some runners from Shetland came along, and from all over, we all crossed paths. It’s been really positive for me.”

Gerry added, “I’ve not considered any other volunteering, this is my safe zone after a difficult week at work. I always know I have this place to come at the end week to meet with others.”

Lomond Radio DJ Alfie J King.
Lomond Radio DJ Alfie J King. -Credit:Lennox Herald

Alfie King Lomond Radio DJ

Although still only 16 years old, Alfie began volunteering with Lomond Radio at 12, which made him one of the youngest radio presenters in the country.

Alfie’s love of music, including playing the guitar and singing, led him to begin his volunteering journey.

The Bonhill teen said: “To be honest my start in volunteering came out of the blue. I had posted on facebook about the new music recording equipment I got for my birthday and Alan Caldwell (One of Lomond Radio’s directors) saw it and messaged me with the idea of presenting my own radio show.

“At first it was daunting. I had no recording experience let alone hosting a radio show. But I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

“I recorded my first show which thankfully they loved, and I got my own slot on a Saturday afternoon 2-3pm.

“I absolutely love volunteering for the station and finding new songs to play and making some connections with great like-minded people”.

Alfie acknowledges how important volunteering with Lomond Radio has been for building confidence.

He continued: “Hosting a radio show is a big responsibility. It’s taught me how to take control of things which if I’m honest I needed desperately.

“The thing I like most about volunteering for Lomond Radio is the freedom. I play songs, tell stories and meet new people. It’s been an amazing experience so far; these past two years and I know there’s still so much to come for the station.”

Alfie plans to keep recording his shows every week and playing his part in taking Lomond Radio to new places.

He continued: “Volunteering for the station is amazing and it’s something that if I didn’t do, I wouldn’t feel good about myself. We are a family.

“To people thinking about volunteering, I would say just go for it.”

David McCallum is a volunteer walk leader.
David McCallum is a volunteer walk leader. -Credit:Daren Borzynski

David McCallum, Alexandria, volunteer walk leader

In June 2018, David started volunteering leading health walks around Levengrove Park, reaching a total of 57 walks, before Covid brought a pause on his role.

Eager to return to it, David attended refresher training in February 2023 and moved to leading routes in the Dumbarton East area of West Dunbartonshire, every Monday morning.

He said: “I enjoy walking, it keeps me active, the weather, especially when it’s sunny and taking in some of scenery along the foreshore where we sometimes spot interesting wildlife.

“I enjoy being part of the group, meeting new people and making new friends. If you want to know more about the walking group, just come and join us. We are a friendly bunch.”

Regular group walker, June Skewis added: “The walks are great, they get you out, make you feel good and it’s great to chat to different people you didn’t know before.

‘It’s great to have David here as a walk leader, he is very welcoming and always has a smile when he greets you.”

Karen Nicol and Felicity Kelly runners
Karen and Felicity have a shared love of athletics -Credit:Daren Borzynski

Karen Nicol Guide runner and Junior Parkrun event director

We all know volunteering helps others in many ways. Perhaps Karen, a chartered accountant and mum of two, knows that more than most.

Karen is the event director at Junior Parkrun and also a guide runner with visually impaired, Felicity Kelly.

Karen said: “I got into volunteering when I started running with Felicity through Christie Park primary school and we would run once a week at school.

“We then attended the Junior Parkrun at Glasgow’s Victoria Park, and one day on the way home Felicity suggested we should have a Junior Parkrun in Dumbarton.

“We looked into it and then set up Levengrove Juniors, which now meets every Sunday.

“Kids can come along and run, walk, skip, or jog. Anything that lets them have fun along the 2km route.”

Felicity and Karen continue to take part every week, and with Felicity now covering longer runs both are looking forward to running together at the Loch Lomond 5K.

She continued: “I get a lot from volunteering; it’s satisfying to see how much Felicity enjoys running.”

Felicity added, “I really enjoy running and it’s nice to get out in the fresh air for a run and thanks to Karen for coming out every time that I want to run.”

Liz Clark volunteers with the Rockvale Rebound talking newspaper.
Liz Clark volunteers with the Rockvale Rebound talking newspaper. -Credit:Daren Borzynski

Liz Clark Rockvale Rebound

Like many parents, Liz first got involved with volunteering through her child’s school PTA but it was another family connection that sees her volunteer with Rockvale Rebound Talking Newspaper.

Liz said: “My mother went blind in her 60’s. She got audio books from RNIB and had the talking newspaper delivered, which she really enjoyed.

“Not long after Covid, I noticed an advert looking for volunteers as they had just started back up after lockdown. I have a brother-in-law who is blind too, so I decided to come and join them as a volunteer.”

Established for almost 40 years, Rockvale Rebound provides weekly recordings of local newspapers, including the Lennox, to people who are blind or visually impaired.

The service currently has six volunteer teams who also record a monthly magazine of quizzes and other articles of interest.

Liz added: “Initially I joined as a reader, coming in once a month, but then joined the committee, too.

“It would be great to build on our success and reach more people across Balloch, Alexandria and Dumbarton. I saw how much the service meant to my mum. So I suppose this type of volunteering here is close to my heart.

“My mum was in her 80’s when she passed away and wasn’t able to navigate computers to access news and information. That’s why I volunteer.”

Joyce MacEwan Guides, Brownies and sports events

After retiring in 2011 as a teacher at Hermitage Academy in Helensburgh, Joyce’s first step in her volunteering journey was at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Building on that experience. She has gone on to give her time to support other sporting events in the Glasgow area, and also volunteers for both the adult and Junior Parkrun in Levengrove Park.

Joyce said: “Volunteering gives me a feeling of being worthwhile.

“After retiring, it would be so easy to sit in the house and do nothing, but now I’m constantly out making new friendships and renewing old ones. I also volunteer with the Guides, Brownies and Rainbows in Dumbarton and anything else that comes up.

“I do everything from charity collections to big events and help at Scottish Athletics and Scottish Netball. Covid was terrible, because we couldn’t see each other but it was lovely when we all got back out to volunteer again.”