13 April 2022

Juliet Sykes wins Luke Gilbert Volunteer of the Year Award

Fun. Kind. Empathetic. Everything you would want in a volunteer. These are just some of the words used to describe Juliet Sykes, the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust’s 2021 Volunteer of the Year.

Juliet Sykes sitting at home and smiling with her Volunteer of the Year award on the table beside her

Juliet was presented with the Trust’s Luke Gilbert Volunteer of the Year Award ahead of our annual Volunteer Day in Birmingham on Saturday (9 March) after the 57-year-old stood out as part of the crew on both Taste of the Trust and five-day sailing trips last year.

She was inspired to join the Trust’s fleet of volunteers after hearing Dame Ellen being interviewed on the radio by Chris Evans while driving to work.

“It was one of those moments where I literally had to pull the car over and stop. I had goosebumps all over my body. I just knew it was something I had to be involved with because of the passion Ellen spoke with and the difference it made to young people’s lives."

"Enriched my life beyond all bounds."

Having volunteered on trips since 2019, Juliet said: “To be recognised for doing something that has enriched my life beyond bounds is just unbelievable. Thank you to everybody and thank you to the Trust for this lovely award.

“It's literally enriched my life beyond all bounds. I see young people and what they get out of it, the platform that it gives them where they can share their own experiences and their hope. They can relate to their similiarites rather than their differences. It’s given me a far better respect for my own life.

“The best bits are the belly-aching laughter and the fun, and the people, the family spirit of it all, the support. Everything, really. I get far more out of volunteering than I put into it, and I can’t imagine not being part of the Trust anymore.”

"Always gives 110%."

Juliet was nominated by young people who have been supported by the Trust and her fellow volunteers within the Trust community. She was presented with the award at her home by Jeremy Morris, our Operations Managers for the South.

Juliet Sykes smiling beside a table with bakery and bunting, fundraising for the Trust

One nomination said: “She brings an energy and enthusiasm which makes young people, including myself, on the trips have a wonderful time. What’s more, her joy and verve makes the trips feel like a safe, supportive place to be. As well as bringing excitement and humour to the days, Jules is a kind, warm, and empathetic presence, someone who has made me feel supported.”

Another said of Juliet: “Jules is a busy mum of three, as well as looking after her extended family, yet still dedicates so much time and positive energy to the Trust. You see how much she enjoys it – that is what makes her so special. She throws herself into everything and always gives 110%.”

The Luke Gilbert Volunteer of the Year Award was introduced in 2017 in celebration of the Trust’s legendary volunteer. Luke’s incredible personality, sense of humour, enthusiasm, compassion and huge amount of fun made him an inspiration to everyone he met. The annual award winners will have demonstrated all the qualities Luke embodied.