Members across UK Celebrate Diamond Jubilee with Service Days
By Heather Whittle Wrigley, Church News and Events
Throughout the United Kingdom in late May and early June 2012, in conjunction with Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee, members in Helping Hands vests gathered to express their appreciation for and serve their communities.
An April 9 letter from the First Presidency congratulated the queen on her 60 years of service to her country. “We rejoice with Her Majesty’s people throughout the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth on the occasion of this historic celebration and commend her for her love of God, her acts of charity, and her sublime example of service and duty,” it read.
Individual stakes and other Church units organized service projects according to their members’ capabilities and schedules, yielding thousands of hours of service by hundreds of individuals over a period of several weeks.
In Cardiff nearly 50 members volunteered their time on the national day of service by participating in an invasive weed removal project and a Salvation Army donation project.
Armed with spades and other garden tools, members of the Runcorn Ward of the Chester England Stake, gathered at Pewithall Primary School, where they transformed a large wooded area attached to the school into a nature reserve for students, complete with bordered paths, observation areas, and an open-air classroom area.
The school’s headmaster expressed his surprise at the amount of work that was accomplished in such a short time and invited the members to help with future projects.
Meanwhile, some members of the Porthmadog Branch met near Beddgelert to spend several hours scraping and scurbbing the peeling paint of the village hall, which is used for community activities. Other members gathered at Mary's Lake to support a cancer fundraiser, a charity walk with Race for Life.
Elsewhere, members of the Moreton Ward joined with a local congregation of another faith to hold a Jubilee family community activity and picnic. And in Rhyl, Wales, the Rhyl Ward and Colwyn Branch gathered to provide shelter and seating for the elderly at a Queen's Jubilee celebration.
Members of Chester Stake's Gaerwen Ward, from Anglesey, North Wales, helped remove an invasive species from a local marsh and bird reserve just a mile from the chapel. In Wrexham, 36 members gave 115 hours of service as they worked hard to repaint a children's nursery, which is run by a charity and trains those with limited means.
“We think Helping Hands days are wonderful,” Irene Ireland, who is a member of the Chester Stake, wrote in an e-mail. “Apart from giving valuable service in our local communities, they afford unique opportunities for bridging the age gap [our working party comprised septuagenarians and Primary-aged children, with all ages in between] to achieve worthwhile aims and, at the same time, to have fun together.”
Susan Bleach of Coventry, England, reported on her stake’s day of service, which was titled “Spring Clean for the Queen.”
“Members of the stake turned out in force to support the project, and we had an excellent result,” she said.
On the Saturday of the project, more than 150 members turned out—in the rain—to clean up the town of Warwick. The Warwick District Council provided the equipment.
Mike Kinson, chair of the Warwick District Council, attended and gave a short speech at the outset thanking members for their participation. Councilor Linda Bromley worked alongside the volunteers.
Members of the Dundee Scotland Stake completed their service project at Kingspark School for children with special needs prior to the national day of service. The project was a continuation of work volunteers completed in April. This phase consisted of approximately 25 members removing stones from a large section of ground, planting grass seed, and making devices to scare away birds. The area will eventually become a large grass field for school activities such as sports.
David J. Forsyth, president of the Glasgow Scotland Stake, worked alongside 34 members of the stake wearing Helping Hands vests. They donated dozens of hours of service to their community.
In Leeds, England, members of the Leeds Third Ward provided service at the Lawnswod Cemetery.
Meanwhile, members of several other stake units are gearing up for their service project on Saturday, June 16—helping to raise funds for St. Gemma’s Hospice, where a number of stake members are currently receiving care.
St. Gemma’s provides specialist medical and nursing care for people with life-threatening illnesses, predominantly cancer, along with support for their families. Stake leaders plan for 60 to 70 members to participate.
On June 2, 2012, in celebration of the National Day of Jubilee Service, approximately 65 sisters of the Northampton England Stake, ages 18 to 85, provided service in three different projects.
One project involved singing to residents at a local care center, while another project involved providing cushions for a women’s refuge facility in Bletchley, Milton Keynes.
Another group of sisters made quilts for Project Linus, a UK charity that seeks “to provide a sense of security and comfort to sick, distressed, and traumatized babies, children, and teenagers through the provision of new homemade patchwork quilts . . . [and] to give an opportunity for needlewomen across the UK to contribute to their local community.”
Volunteers completed 12 quilts and 30 cushions, and sisters of the Duston Ward will continue the quilt project in the future.
Members of the Norwich England stake completed diamond jubilee Helping Hands projects in four locations over two weeks in May and June, totaling nearly 750 hours of voluntary service.
“The most important thing is the wonderful impression left in the minds and hearts of the communities and groups blessed by this service,” said stake president Lawrence Vingoe.
Approximately 30 members and friends from the Lowestoft and Gorleston congregations cleared trash near an industrial park in Gorleston, impacting the cleanliness of the whole area.
In Norwich, 20 adult members and 7 children spent more than four hours cutting grass, weeding, and trimming hedges at a local primary school garden that had become neglected after the gardener was injured.
Mildenhall and Thetford members supported a project to clean and refurbish a large staircase at a public building owned by the Breckland District Council.
More than 80 members of the Norwich England Stake helped revamp Smithdon High School in Hunstanton.
From 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., groups of Latter-day Saints sprang into action to clear litter from the gardens and playing fields. They also painted newly built tables, seats, and fences; cleaned windows; and moved stacks of paper to the printing room.
In the early afternoon the school headteacher, J. Goodchild, inspected the work done and expressed his praise and appreciation to all those who participated in the service project. Staff members at the school were very surprised and pleased by the volume of work completed.
Members of the Sheffield England Stake are planning multiple service projects in the upcoming weeks. On July 7, for instance, the Sheffield Second Ward will hold painting, maintenance, and cleanup projects in Oughtibridge, Grenoside, and Stocksbridge.
In York, England, members organized several service projects, including a free celebratory fair, a landscaping project, and a cemetery cleanup project.
Local member Duncan Maclean reported that many elderly individuals and underprivileged families—both members and nonmembers—attended the fair, which nearly 90 members participated in by organizing, preparing, running, and cleaning up.
Near Whitby, some 70 members worked alongside local residents to dig out, wheelbarrow, and lay a cinder path so hikers, walkers, and schoolchildren could enjoy an ancient path that monks once followed to worship at a nearby abbey.