23 August 2022

One of our amazing Veterinary Nursing team members here at Willows has spoken of her immense pride at being a volunteer at the recent Commonwealth Games.

Jo Vale was one of 14,000 volunteers chosen from 46,000 applicants to help keep the 2022 games in Birmingham running smoothly.

Jo, who said she had ‘grown up’ with us at Willows having spent the first two decades of her career working in the banking sector before making the switch to veterinary nursing, turned 50 earlier this year and said she was inspired to apply as part of her birthday celebrations.

She said: “To mark my 50th birthday, I did a ‘50 things to do’ list, with going to the Commonwealth Games and doing volunteer work both on there.

“We’d managed to get tickets to the games as spectators for two days but I thought why not apply to volunteer as well.

“That was September last year and I had to go to the library in Birmingham for an interview where they went through my CV and had a chat about what my skills were and how they could relate to a volunteering role.

“I heard I’d been successful in February and then had to attend a training course so they could decide which area I’d be most suitable to support in.”

Jo, who is from Sheldon in the West Midlands, spent 11 days as part of the ‘Games family’ based at the NEC, helping delegates and dignitaries.

She also attended the opening ceremony at the Alexander Stadium, seeing the likes of former world champion swimmer Mark Foster and BBC presenter Hazel Irvine to their seats, along with international dignitaries from the likes of Tonga and Samoa. 

While volunteering at the NEC, which played host to sports such as boxing, netball, table tennis and weightlifting, Jo also met the Earl and Countess of Wessex.

She said: “The whole experience was just the best time. The atmosphere was brilliant and to be part of it all was very special, as the games won’t come here again in my lifetime. I’m just so proud of Birmingham for hosting such a brilliant event.

“I actually enjoyed it so much I have already applied to volunteer at the 2024 Paris Olympics and the 2026 Commonwealth Games in Australia!”

Jo has worked here at Willows for 12 years, having started out as a Veterinary Care Assistant (VCA).

She said: “I’d previously worked for the Halifax for 21 years and was made redundant. I’ve always been an animal lover and Willows had just moved to its current state-of-the-art hospital in Solihull, so I decided to put myself through college to complete a VCA course and then applied to join Willows.

“You could say I’ve grown up with Willows. Over the past 12 years, I have progressed from a VCA through to a registered veterinary nurse. I love the job and being part of such a great team here.”