News - 6th June 2023

While there might be no winners, there are immense rewards


While there might be no winners at parkrun, there are immense rewards. Anyone who chooses to volunteer stands to receive much more in return.


If you ask Vince Parker why he volunteers, he will tell you that he just wants to help others. This, of course, is true. As a regular photographer at Bill Rose Sports Complex parkrun, his pictures and videos bring joy to the participants. But for Vince, the benefits of volunteering extend far further than Saturday mornings.


Vince has fought brain cancer since 2004. For many years this caused epilepsy and seizures, which could be managed with medication, that allowed him to work. But in 2021, he was forced to quit after suffering from blackouts that lasted as long as two minutes. After 23 years working in mines operating heavy equipment, his career and much of his social life seemed to be over.


“I was home nearly all the time, and the days started to melt into each other. I could only tell you it was a weekday if my wife had been to work.”


“I like routine and a reason to get up each morning; without work, I lost that.”


Vince’s wife was already a regular at parkrun, and she encouraged him to come along. Running wasn’t an option, and walking didn’t appeal, so Vince decided to volunteer, though he admits he was initially nervous.


“The first step was the biggest. I didn’t know anyone apart from my wife.


“At first, I stayed in the background, but I soon got more confident.”


Even though he says he’s happy to take on any volunteer role, Vince discovered that photography brought the most satisfaction.




“I appreciate now that lots of people like to see pictures of themselves out on the course. They are very grateful for my pictures which means a lot to me.”


“It doesn’t matter if they run, walk or volunteer; everyone gets their picture taken. But when they see me with my camera, people often give it a bit of extra oomph,” he says.


Volunteering can be both a meaningful and enjoyable experience and also boost mental health. Vince says that the connections and friends he has made at parkrun through volunteering have helped him with his battle with cancer.


“Before parkrun, I was stuck at home and had no one to talk to during the day. When my wife came home from work, I would yap her ears off, and she’d sometimes tell me all she wanted was a quiet house, and all I wanted to do was talk!


“Going to parkrun is my social outing, and I have made a lot of friends from doing it.


“A number of people that I worked with do parkrun as well. So even though I don’t get to catch up with anyone at work anymore, I still get to catch up with them by doing parkrun.”


The prognosis for Vince’s health is good, and he will soon finish his last round of chemotherapy. He says that parkrun has helped him through what have been uncomfortable times.


“I’ve had 12 months of chemo, and even when I’ve felt like crap on a Saturday morning, I’ve still made it to parkrun to take pictures.


“Even when I’m looking like the walking wounded, I still want to do it because I enjoy it.”


With his health improving, Vince says he looks forward to returning to work while continuing to volunteer regularly at parkrun.


“I love parkrun because it is all-inclusive. Walk, run, even crawl, just come along and enjoy it.


“I just want to continue to volunteer and help people, and I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to.”



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