With two thirds (66%) of the public thinking everyday heroes go unacknowledged – and 44% wanting to talk more openly about the selfless acts of others – Foresters Friendly Society, the mutual financial services provider, ran a UK wide competition to find the nation’s Unsung Hero.
Entrants told Foresters about their ‘Unsung Hero’s’ tireless efforts, and how their volunteering benefitted their local community. Having received close to 100 unique and moving online entries, submitted from a combination of both existing members of Foresters and the public, the judges faced a tough decision in selecting the winner.
With the competition drawn to a close, 52-year-old lifeboat volunteer, Jonathan Clark from Poole, was crowned the winner of the Unsung Hero competition, in recognition of his lifelong dedication to helping save lives at sea.
Jonathan was awarded £2,000 worth of vouchers from Virgin Experience Days and plans to take up the exclusive Savile Row Tailoring Experience – ensuring he’s sufficiently suited and booted and out of the dry suit and lifejacket when he next has the opportunity!
With a lifelong career (35 years) spent working for Sunseekers International as a boatbuilder alongside volunteering for the RNLI, Jonathan has made sacrifices and has made sure he’s available round-the-clock should someone need him on duty to help in last-minute rescue missions.
Jonathan joined the crew in 1983, it was inevitable, following in his father’s footsteps, and having a family heritage of mariners, who were saving lives at sea in Mudeford, Dorset, well before the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) was even established.
Jonathan was unaware he was nominated for the Unsung Heroes competition by his wife, Anne-Marie. The couple have been married for 20 years and met somewhat ‘accidentally’ following a minor boating accident in Poole.
On his time spent as a RNLI volunteer, Jonathan Clark commented: “Being a lifeboat volunteer is a lifestyle commitment. Your family life revolves around a pager and you must plan your day so that you can respond and launch within 6-8 minutes, day or night, in all weathers.
“You may lose a lot of sleep and risk your life, sometimes leaving your family members mid-meal at a restaurant or during your child’s recital but it is so rewarding! Knowing you and the crew brought a loved one home and reunited them with their family against the odds, is truly incredible, humbling and a privilege.
“It was such a surprise to be crowned the winner of Foresters’ Unsung Hero competition and I’m overwhelmed by the generosity. Over the years there have been some difficult times, and sometimes the conclusion is not what you’d hope for. I receive this prize with great pleasure and thank you for the acknowledgement, the brine and desire to help people runs in my blood, which is why I relish being a RNLI volunteer.”
Head of Marketing for Foresters Friendly Society Sally Waterfield commented: “We are delighted to announce Jonathan as the winner of our Unsung Hero competition – we truly felt all that he has done to help those in need and the sacrifices he has made over the years made him more than deserving of the prize.
“As a friendly society, we are always conscious of improving the lives of not just our members, but the local community in which they live. We hope our competition and campaign inspires others to take-up volunteering, no matter what their passion or interest is.”