We all like to think that we would do our bit for a good cause, but would you give up two weeks of your holiday every year, to spend your days working 14 hours shifts helping to sell poppies?
That’s what Sian Cameron does, but far from complaining about it, the 34-year-old loves every minute.
Okay, so there might be the odd moment when faced with some 60,000 poppies all waiting to be boxed and delivered, when the novelty might wear thin.
But Sian, who is Support Centre Manager at Stockton Riverside College’s Engineering provision, NETA Training, is more than happy to play her part.
Plus she can take great satisfaction in knowing that she would be making her late dad proud.
“As Poppy Appeal Organiser for Hartlepool it is something my dad, Ian Cameron, was really passionate about and he was proud to be involved,” she said.
So when he died suddenly after suffering a heart attack in 2010, it seemed only right for her to step into the role.
Looking back, she said: “I don’t quite know how I managed that first year.” But just like her dad before her, it wasn’t long before she was bitten by the bug.
Every year Sian now takes time away from her day job to box, deliver and sell poppies, working with a group of around 25 dedicated volunteers.
With her small terrace cottage filled to the brim all year-round with poppies, volunteer Sian even had to have her loft done out especially to accommodate the precious paper flowers.
“My dad always made it look so easy,” she said. But with a much larger house with a double garage, she added you never really noticed the many boxes.
Now in her seventh year, like her dad before her, Sian has the process down to a fine art.
Last year she and her team of volunteers raised over £50,000 for the Royal British Legion, with that money going to support the charity’s work providing lifelong support for the Armed Forces community, including serving men and women, veterans and their families.
This November Sian is determined to do even better.
“I have an amazing group of people who work with me every year,” she said.
Plus, never shy to enlist the help of family, friends and indeed colleagues, this year she will be joined by several fellow members of NETA staff, including Carol Richardson, Lisa Wells and Lynne Willis, who have volunteered to lend a hand.
“It’s fabulous that people are willing to give their time to help out,” said Sian. “And what you find is that once someone has done one day they will never stop.
“When you are selling the poppies you meet the nicest people and hear their stories, it really does bring out the best in everybody.”
Among Sian’s team of volunteers, NETA Sales and Marketing Team Leader, Lisa Wells, said: “Sian’s commitment is massive and something to be proud of. She works full-time as a centre manager for NETA Training, but always finds time to put a massive amount of effort into the cause.
“She is always trying to find new ways to actively highlight the charity to increase awareness along with funds, not just in the first two weeks of November but during the whole year.
“I am happy to be able to lend a hand and give my time for such a worthy cause.”
NETA’s Sales Administrator Lynne, who is no stranger to helping out a worthwhile cause as a committee member of Middlesbrough-based Inward Bound, said: “It is something I’m really looking forward to. I enjoy meeting and greeting people and it’s great to know we’re doing something to help such an important charity.”