Meet our Volunteer Connie Cluderay

I've been a volunteer at OPAL since about 2013. I'd retired that year but wanted to do something useful with some of my spare time - something where I'd be useful, be able to make a difference and where I could meet others and possibly make new friends too.


As a volunteer I do quite a few things. One of my main roles is helping with the Friday Lunch Club. I set tables, greet and help members to their seats, help serve lunch and drinks and generally make sure members have a lovely experience. I love to chat with people and find out about their lives and how they are. After lunch has finished we clear away and make sure people are safely back to their transport home or escorted into the Heather room for the Friday Social. Here, with other volunteers, we help staff to provide a range of different activities from a talk or presentation to a quiz or playing games etc. Some people have specific needs and need more individual support or help. Having a number of volunteers is very important so we can offer that level of support. We set up the room, make & serve refreshments and clear away. Being able to chat to people is a good asset but so is being able to do things behind the scenes. I've also helped at various events and outings including day trips, supporting people at the theatre, meals, civic events and invitations, our AGMs and the fundraising events that take place over the year. There's always something to do or help with. Last summer I helped with painting and upcycling furniture for the community cafe. Great fun and very satisfying.

I've always been a member of OPAL and although I don't particularly attend anything as a member I've been able to make new friends and enjoy meeting up with them at OPAL and outside of OPAL. During the pandemic it was lovely to do activities online. The Friday social still happened online and we did quite a lot of different things via Zoom. I still do the Tuesday morning quiz too!

I'm often asked what I like best about OPAL as both a member and a volunteer. Well - I love feeling useful and being able to help. I love the older members. They are great to be around, they make me smile and they cheer me up. I know I make a difference to their lives and help them enjoy their time at OPAL. I'm valued as a volunteer and we get support, opportunities to train or learn new skills and we have lovely volunteer social events. What's not to like about being part of OPAL.

I was asked to provide a fun fact about myself. Once on holiday in Barbados I helped ‘rescue` some money ($500) blowing away down the street. When we returned it to its owner we got chatting and he asked where we were from as he recognised our accent . When we said Leeds he said he was from Leeds too. Long story short it turned out he was the famous artist Damion Hirst! Shame we never asked for a photo with him or his autograph. PS he bought the 4 of us a drink as he was on a floating bar!

Connie 1

Connie 2