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Faces of happy grandparents

Grandparents are great!

Not only can grandparents help bolster volunteer numbers, they also bring a wealth of experience that can be enlightening for pupils and parents alike!

Reaching out to grandparents to support your PTFA can pay dividends. With more and more stepping in to help with childcare, you may be surprised how many are already on your playground! Forget stereotypes of grandparents as old and frail - many are still very active and fun-loving. Your senior supporters probably have more time and skills than many of your parents, and offering them the chance to play an active role on your PTFA provides them with the means to share their talents and time in a meaningful way!

Ann Harrington, PTFA Secretary, Hugh Joicey CE Aided First School, Berwick upon Tweed, Northumberland (62 pupils): 'Our Chair, Tina Mulvey and I are both grandparents and we're very passionate about our school. Like many PTAs we used to have terrible trouble making a quorum for the AGM and sometimes even for a normal meeting! The constitution was changed to make us a PTFA so that grandparents could take committee roles. We run a range of fundraising activities, such as a 100 club, raffles and cake stalls. Last year, we took over a charity shop for a week and sold all manner of items donated by parents and the community and raised £2,500. We grannies became involved because it was a struggle to get people to join the committee. I don't think either of us intended to end up with the roles that we did, but it is a match made in heaven! Tina and I will have been doing this for two years this November and we often joke that we spend more time with each other than we do with our husbands!'

Sue Stone, former PTA Treasurer, Greenleas School, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire (560 pupils): 'My granddaughter brought a letter home from school that asked for a volunteer to be Treasurer of the 
PTFA, and my daughter-in-law suggested I give it a go. I rang the school, met the Chair and began a journey that would change my retirement! The parents and teachers were very welcoming; I looked forward to meetings and began to become involved in events as well as doing the books. Not having the restrictions of a job or a young family meant I was free to help out whenever needed. Far from feeling over-the-hill, the school made me feel valued. I went out for the evening when committee members got together and made some great new friends. The Headteacher then said they were looking for Midday Supervisors and asked if I would be interested. I discovered at the age of 60 how much I enjoyed working with children. I have been privileged to be involved in my granddaughter's school. For me it was a win-win situation, and I hope it benefitted the school too.'

Anne Robb, former committee member at Leyland St Andrew's Infant School in Leyland, Lancashire told us: 'I was a PTFA member throughout the lives of all of my children and grandchildren, and loved my time on each committee. For me, volunteering wasn't just about making funds for the school, but seeing the improvements to pupils' education. In the later years when I was volunteering at my grandson's school, popping in to help at events and attend meetings was easy because the school was in walking distance of my home. I was warmly welcomed by the other members of the committee, and we held events like children's discos, film nights and Christmas fayres. PTFAs should definitely encourage grandparents to volunteer as it's such a rewarding thing to do, especially as most parents struggle to split their time nowadays. Many people are reluctant because PTFAs have a reputation of being cliquey, but in my experience, it was never like this. I only ever felt like I was amongst friends.'

Edwina Byass, PTFA Treasurer, Linslade School, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire (600 pupils): 'Two years ago Linslade School PTFA was struggling to fill committee posts and get helpers for events. My grandson begged me to help out so that their disco would go ahead! I had time to spare and decided to volunteer to help - at the first meeting I was elected treasurer. I have benefitted by being able to help my grandson's school in a way that drew on my past experience and made me use my brain beyond doing the daily crossword! Although I do get tired at times (for example when I have helped at a school disco) it is a 'healthy' tired. I really believe it physically does me good and has helped me to regain my vitality. I would certainly encourage other grandparents to get involved. In today's society, many of us are more hands-on with our grandchildren and have more energy than our parents did. As for being frail, just carrying £1,000 of cash (mostly in coins) to the bank requires strength! I am 66 and have been through medical hell, but I am back! My generation is a "can-do" generation!'

NOTE: Check your constitution to verify whether your membership includes grandparents (this is usually the case if you are a PTFA/Friends Association). Only members can hold elected roles on the committee.

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