Volunteers week: Dick Millard

When Dick Millard retired from a management role at BT he was determined to find something to do that got him out in the fresh air.

Now he gives up his time for cycling charity and organises 120 volunteers for Friends of the Railway Path, a charity that maintains the 11-mile path running from Coate water near Swindon to Marlborough on the site of the former Midlands and South West Junction Railway line.

The line saw its last passenger train rumble past on September 10th, 1961. Now it hosts thousands of walkers and cyclists every year and needs continual maintenance.

Dick, 65, was asked to form the group by Sustrans seven years ago and since then he has built up a network of workers and supporters.

“I organise about six work days a year so I’ll send an email around to the 120 people on the list and we’ll get about 12 to 15 turn up at each day. It can be different people at each day. Some of the people on the list don’t come to the work days but they come to things like the wildlife days we organise or they just like to know what is going on,” he said.

The paths need continual work to keep them in good shape and to cope with the use they get.

“It is good when you can see the impact of what you have done and then a few months later you revisit it and you can say to yourself ‘I did that’. Sometimes when we are working the paths are deserted but you can also meet a whole load of people so you stop to chat to them.”

He enjoys the fresh air the camaraderie of working on the paths and says he would recommend anyone take time to do some volunteering.

“It keeps you interested, you meet new people and it makes a difference to the community,” he said. “And of course if you are interested in Friends of the Railway Path, do get in touch.”

The Wiltshire Community Foundation has supported Friends of the Railway Path with funding. For more information about the group go to their website.

Volunteers Week, which runs until June 7th, celebrates the work and dedication of the millions of people who give up their time to help others. Hundreds of events will be taking place across the country to mark Volunteers' Week. The annual campaign, which was established in 1984, recognises the contribution volunteers make to our communities every day.

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