12:58pm Thursday 24th May 2012
Every year, more than 20 million people across the country volunteer their time to improve things for others.
It is estimated that they donate 100 million hours every week, worth in excess of £40 billion to our economy.
Many of our essential services simply wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for volunteers.
Locally, both the Cave Rescue Organisation and the Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association are run entirely by volunteers, who turn out 365 days of the year to help those in difficulty both above and below ground. They are lifesavers - quite literally.
Other examples include magistrates, special constables and the “street angels” who patrol Skipton on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Perhaps less high profile, but important nevertheless, are the thousands of people who help at community centres, in charity shops or with local groups.
And this year, there will be hundreds of volunteers helping to ensure the Queen’s diamond jubilee and the Olympics are celebrated in style.
Every one of these volunteers make a crucial contribution, helping to bind communities together, building co-operation and trust between individuals and making our area a better place to live and work.
It is fitting, therefore, that a special week is dedicated to them.
Volunteers Week - which this year runs from June 1 to 7 - celebrates their contribution in the hope of inspiring others to give their time.
We should all hear the message. Sometimes in our busy lives we lose sight of what really matters.
As we reported last week, the Craven Herald, in partnership with Craven District Council and the Rotary Club, has launched the search for local community champions - those people who have gone the extra mile.
Craven is full of unsung heroes.
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