- Since 1990 Nacoa has valued the commitment and dedication of volunteers who provide helpline services making them freely given by people who truly care. Care and compassion freely given is priceless, especially for our callers whose lives are often full of the lack of the little things which are essential to us all. Nacoa helps to fill the deficit.
It is therefore, with enormous pride in the work of all our volunteers, this year’s special award winners are:
New Volunteer of the Year, Abie Laidlow
Abie is one of Nacoa’s unseen heroes. She arrives for her weekly shift like clockwork with a smile so encompassing that you feel blessed to know her, as are our helpline callers. With Abie with us, the Nacoa Helpline is in very good hands and she deserves endless thanks for her compassion caring and love.
Upfest Volunteer of the Year, Mike Ohlson
Known as ‘Money Mike’, he is the lynchpin in what is now huge event (over 300 artists painting live this year) continually walking the Upfest trail, collecting and counting money raised for the Nacoa helpline, providing floats, running errands and bringing the news from across multiple sites, all raising funds for Nacoa – we could not imagine Upfest without our Money-Mike.
Nacoa Long Service Award, Tom Freeman
Tom found Nacoa and completed the Foundation Training Programme in 2011. At the time he was living in London and travelled to Bristol on Saturdays to answer helpline calls. He is an amazing ambassador for Nacoa delivering presentations around the UK and connecting with people through his enthusiasm and passion so children of alcoholics know they are not alone.
Maya Parker Award, Sally-Jane Brett
The Maya Parker Award was created in 2014 in what was a challenging year. The award acknowledges heroic efforts, like its name sake! Sally-Jane is a hero, both personally and in her helpline work. She brings gentle loving care to the helpline team and a safe space to share for our callers. We are forever grateful for all she brings to Nacoa.
Outstanding Achievement Award, The Right Honourable Liam Byrne MP
The past eighteen months have been extraordinary. In 2015, Liam Byrne walked into the Nacoa office and left pledging his help and support for children of alcoholics. He established the All-Party Parliamentary Group on children of alcoholics, engaged cross-party support and, in 2017, launched the first Manifesto for Children of Alcoholics in the world which attracted commendation from UNICEF. Children of alcoholics are now the top of the alcohol harm agenda and a priority for Public Health England.
At the beginning of this extraordinary time, Liam wanted to create a better world for children of alcoholics and asked us to talk properly about alcoholism. And dreams come true, the world is listening to the hitherto silent voices and there is a new national dialogue committed to change. Liam Byrne has irrevocably changed the world for children of alcoholics everywhere.
Volunteers of the Year, Cassie Ohlson and Piers Henriques
This is the year to celebrate our unseen heroes as they allow us to tight-rope-walk on the digital platform; work tirelessly in the lead-up and during Upfest keeping us and the festival safe; creating a safe place for all children of alcoholics on our fabulous website (built for free by Modular Digital), established and maintain the online message boards, devote endless time to COA Week, create new publications, raise funds on eBay, contribute to the APPG for children of alcoholics and work with the media so that Nacoa – with one full time and four part time members of staff – has a place on the digital platform which stands beside charities hundreds of times bigger and richer than Nacoa. They make the world a better place for the millions of children of alcoholics everywhere.
You probably think I’m talking about the whole team but these are some of the tasks taken on by just two Volunteers. With apologies to Cassie as I know Piers’ keenness to share everything with her (the reverse of only-child-syndrome) is sometimes challenging , this year’s winners of Nacoa Volunteers of the Year 2017 are Cassie Ohlson and Piers Henriques.