Busy as a bee

Throughout the pandemic, Graham has helped with non-stop volunteering for the WEA Reach Out programme. He’s looked after the local beehives, the main one being on the roof of Aberdeen theatre and made up food parcels and, late at night and very early morning, distributed them to the homeless. As if that wasn’t enough, as part of his daily exercise during lockdown, Graham did environmental clean-ups and helped run the Reach Out hillwalking group. 

Reach Out has made an immense difference for me in my life. I really can’t praise the WEA highly enough.

I like to keep myself busy. There’s the gardening and walking groups with WEA Reach Out. I’m an Aberdeen in Recovery volunteer activist. I do voluntary work with Alcohol & Drugs Action. And then there’s managing the beehives with Aberdeen Inspire and the conservation work with the John Muir Trust. I’m always up early in the mornings and sometimes through the night as well, depending what’s going on.

In lockdown, I joined a charity called Street Friends, helping the homeless. I do a Wednesday and Sunday night with them, and then during the week with the morning outreach trolley along Union Street, giving out cups of tea and coffee, sandwiches and so on. 

What keeps me motivated? I’m in recovery from alcoholism myself. Five years ago, I nearly died. After that, I thought: that’s it, I’ve had enough. I started to see life as a second chance, and never looked back. I’ve lost too many good friends to drink and drugs. I didn’t want to be one of those guys who packed in early. That helps me to stay in a positive frame of mind and keep working hard. 

Reach Out has made an immense difference for me in my life. I really can’t praise the WEA highly enough. They’re absolute magic. My tutor Ross mentioned he’d nominated me for the award a few months ago, but told me not to get my hopes up. Then I saw the email pop into my inbox. Just fantastic. I was totally gobsmacked. It means a lot. 

The Reach Out walking club is a source of great pleasure, when it has been safe to get together and get outside. There are so many beautiful hills round about. I just love the freedom. There’s nothing better than spotting ospreys or buzzards, or seeing the heather on the hills. Especially on those warm days when it’s not windy and rainy for a change. Nature really inspires me. 

I love looking after the bees too. It’s not just the fact you get the honey either! It’s so satisfying to know they are looking after the local area by pollinating the plants. They keep the circle of life turning. We’re looking to grow the number of hives across the city. I’m going to be even more busy now. 

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