As he advances towards his 100th year, Norman Hutchison isn't giving up volunteering yet
At 99 years old, you could forgive me for wanting to lead a quiet life.
After a career spent as a youth worker in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeenshire, a well-earned relaxing and lengthy retirement at home in Dyce would have been the easier option.
But with a life’s work invested in the care and stewardship of young people, I didn’t ever want to turn my back on the career I have loved. So, I still find time for a weekly shift at the local Childline base in Aberdeen city centre.
Most volunteers at the confidential service spend their time listening to the concerns of hundreds of the UK’s children and young people who call in 24/7 with worries about everything from bullying to sexual abuse.
However, I offer something different and use my experience in admin to help support the running of the Ruby Lane base, helping to make things that little bit easier for the volunteers and staff who are counselling children.
I first got involved after a concert in Aberdeen music hall on Union Street, which was raising money for the charity.
A speaker outlined what Childline was and why it needed volunteers. I got one of the slips and returned it saying I was prepared to volunteer.
I knew the name but that was really my sum-total knowledge of Childline at the time. I decided I didn’t want to be a counsellor, but having a life time’s experience of voluntary organisations, I knew that helping with the admin in some way wasn’t a very important thing to do and it suited me. That’s what started it in 2004 and I have been very happy to do back up stuff for staff.
Volunteering has helped me remain active in the community, especially after the passing of my wife Lilian in 2009.
As a father, grandfather and great-grandfather, I also love to be regarded as one of the faithful staff who help deliver more than 132,230 counselling sessions to children across the UK.
And although I may not be speaking directly to children who are distressed, worried about their mental health or family issues, I hear enough to know the importance of the service.
In my own contact with youth organisations, we just weren’t exposed to that kind of need from youngsters. Back then it wasn’t known or talked about.
Childline has highlighted a need and it has acted on the knowledge of that. If the help I give is of use to it then I’m happy to do my bit.
I just go on living, and Childline will continue to be a part of that. It’s a good discipline for me to get up on the days I volunteer and it’s now very important for me to have something to do.