International Volunteers Day is held on December 5 annually, recognising the valuable contribution volunteers make within their communities.
For Seaford resident, Janet Tidey volunteering is a huge part of everyday life.
For the last ten years she has been helping out at her local zoo, Drusillas Park, returning each week to assist and spread a conservation message.
Janet said: “I absolutely love it. I volunteered at my local swimming club for 28 years but in 2004 I fancied a change and applied to the scheme at Drusillas.
“It gets me out and about and I have learnt so much from the keepers; I find out something new each time.”
As part of this role, Janet helps raise awareness and oversees the zoo’s popular walkthrough enclosures.
She also helps out in the Discovery Centre, educating people about custom seized animal artefacts although her favourite place is alongside the 12 playful residents of Lemurland.
“Over the years I have witnessed so many funny events and I often go home smiling to myself.
“The lemurs are so cheeky they are always up to no good; they keep me entertained” said Janet.
“My favourite part is meeting new people; I get to chat to the public and pass on all the knowledge I have built up.
“The worst part is working outside in the rain and cold but being with the animals makes it all worthwhile.”
Education officer and volunteer co-ordinator, Carla Dray said: “Janet has been a loyal asset to the volunteer team for the past 10 years.
“Living locally she is able to help us out most weekdays and has in fact given her time on 174 occasions so far this year which to my knowledge is a record number.”
“We hope that Janet continues to volunteer here for as long as possible, not just because of her passion and commitment to the role but also because she keeps us well stocked up in cake!”
As for Janet, she has no intention of leaving anytime soon!
Despite being a mum of six and grandmother to eight children, she plans to continue at the zoo for the foreseeable future: “I can’t wait to meet the new armadillo that arrives in January and I am hoping to spend some time looking after the reindeer this Christmas too.
“All the time I can drive I will carry on volunteering; I can’t imagine life without it.”
To find out more about Drusillas Park and the Volunteer Scheme visit www.drusillas.co.uk or telephone 01323 874100.