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Hilary’s our Volunteer of the Year

12 December 2019

Hilary Castle was  “absolutely honoured” to win the title Kisharon Volunteer of the Year at the JVN Celebration of Volunteering Awards dinner at Allianz Park last week. “I never look to be appreciated, but it’s lovely to know that you are.”

Hilary volunteers at Kisharon School’s Rainbow Class where children have profound and multiple learning disabilities. “Working here is especially difficult because you cannot have a conversation with the children – you cannot get anything back.

“But I know Hilary really enjoys it. She is always smiling and happy and I can tell she enjoys her time. She is reliable, consistent, positive and dynamic,” said School Administrator Bhavna Adatia, who nominated Hilary.

For Hilary, it’s the children that make her volunteering worthwhile. On her first day in class, one of the boys looked up and smiled at her. She said: “This particular boy can do very little but has the most delightful smile. It lit up my day and still does.”

At the class during lunchtime, Hilary feeds the children, tops up their drinks, takes them to the playground and reads countless stories.

With free time on her hands following the sale of her family’s business, Hilary contacted the JVN and was introduced to Kisharon.

Hilary is also on Kisharon’s team of ad hoc volunteers. She was called in to help at the Skills for Employment Centre when the workload soared with orders for decorated Shabbat candles and personalised honey for Rosh Hashanah, does administrative work at Head Office in Colindale and organises databases at Kisharon’s Gift and Homeware Shop, Equal. On Purim, she counts the proceeds from collectors’ buckets. Hilary said: “I don’t mind what I do. As long as there is something to do, I’m happy to get on with it.”

But the job Hilary is most proud of – and one that gladdens Kisharon’s fundraising team – was turning into a healthy profit three huge bags of obsolete and foreign coins that had been thrown into Kisharon collecting tins over many years.

Hilary explains: “I became a sleuth and researched coin dealers online. Banks would not take most of the currency but I found a coin dealer who took all pre-1947 coins for their high silver content and melted them, giving me the value of the silver. We sold the one half gold sovereign we found for the best price, and stumbled across another dealer who gave us 80 per cent of the value of old Spanish pesetas, French francs, Dutch guilders and other currencies I couldn’t even name. It was a very rewarding task that raised £300.”

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Pirkei Avos
“The world stands on three things: Torah, the service of G-d, and deeds of kindness.” Kisharon looks at the person not the disability, teaching Torah, Middos and Mitzvot embracing and cherishing everybody’s special talent and bringing out the best in them.