Volunteers’ Week 2020: Celebrating James Boxer

03 June 2020

This week is Volunteers’ Week, an annual celebration of the contribution millions of people make across the UK through volunteering. We wanted to highlight the achievements of an exceptional person, James Boxer.

We are so proud to work alongside James who volunteers for Guideposts in Oxfordshire, attending events, setting up clubs and covering our cosy reception at the Community Hub in Witney.  To show our appreciation, we nominated James for an award and were over joyed when he was awarded Witney Town Council Young Citizen of the Year in 2020 by Witney Town Mayor Duncan Enright.

The award is given to a person younger than 30 years old who has done exceptional work within the community.

James Boxer volunteering for Guideposts in Oxford’s Westgate Centre

James is a familiar face to many in Witney, he has volunteered with community groups for over 10 years. Our brilliant community fundraiser in Oxfordshire, Tania, caught up with James to find out more.

James, how long have you been volunteering in the community?

I started with Wychwood Projects when I left college in 2008. I did conservation work. Tree planting and we dug up old abbey under the ponds at Eynsham by the Talbot. It was good but once I fell asleep in the trees.

Then a couple of years later I met the Royal British Legion in Witney and I thought about volunteering for them. Because I was more confident because I had been working at Wychwood projects and I always wanted to join the Army or Fire Service, I can’t and I thought I could help.

Can you tell me a little bit more about why you can’t join the Army?

Well, I’m deaf. I can’t hear without my hearing aids. I had a brain tumour when I was 12 so there’s things I can’t do. Like I can’t motivate myself and I hate reading and writing. I’m not very good at it. And I have coordination problems, like if I hold things in both hands my right hand starts to shake. The tumour was in the left side of my brain, but it affects the right side of my body. I get tired easily and I can get dizzy.

How many charities have you worked for?

Wychwood project for 5 years and then Royal British Legion for 10 years. I did a couple of years for St Johns Ambulance I think in 2010. I volunteer at the African Children’s Fund charity shop on Thursdays as they didn’t have anyone to help so I said yes and have been doing that since 2015.

I also volunteer steward at festivals. I started at LibFest in 2015 but I have worked at Witney Music Festival and Cowley Carnival and last year I volunteered at Countryfile at Blenheim Palace, and I started a new festival called Meadowlands. Oh, and I do PRIDE in Witney and I help at MuzoAkademy events too.

Wow, James that is a lot!  You really like music festivals?

Yes, I do but I don’t hear the music very well. I like meeting all the people and making them smile. I get to speak to lots of people and make new friends.

How much money do you think you have helped charities raise since you started volunteering?

When I first started with the RBL it was about £700 but now I get £1,000 in two weeks. I think I have collected about £600 for Guideposts from holding buckets! Not everyone lets me know how much, but I think I do quite well at Witney Music Festival as the lady keeps having to come and take all the notes so we are safe and not handling too much money that can be stolen. I seem to get a lot of notes.

How does it feel to get the award of Witney Young Citizen of the Year 2020?

I was really shocked. I didn’t know who had nominated me at first. They didn’t tell me so I had to ring around. Lots of people gave letters to you. I didn’t know. It’s great. But I haven’t got the award yet, because of lockdown. I’m looking forward to celebrating with Guideposts.

Well done James! Thanks for everything that you have done for us, what a great achievement!

This post has been taken from our Oxfordshire newsletter, where you can read this article in full.

Do you have a few hours spare and want to make a difference? We’ve lots of volunteering opportunities we would love to tell you about. Call 01993 893 560 or email info@guideposts.org.uk to find out more.