Volunteer Star Q&A with Andrew McIvor

20th May 2020 12:00

"I volunteered because I need a sense of purpose and, in The Beatson in particular, I can apply one of my best personal beliefs: if you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours!"

Volunteer - Andrew McIvor

A Q&A with volunteer Andrew McIvor on supporting The Beatson through Covid-19

A Q&A with volunteer Andrew McIvor on supporting The Beatson through Covid-19

20th May 2020

"I volunteered because I need a sense of purpose and, in The Beatson in particular, I can apply one of my best personal beliefs: if you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours!"

Volunteer - Andrew McIvor


Throughout this uncertain time we have been blown away by the drive and enthusiasm of our volunteers.

Today, we're getting to know Andrew who has been a part of the team supporting staff and patients directly at The Beatson, providing hand sanitiser at the entrances of the hospital.

What compelled you to volunteer during COVID-19?

I was a volunteer in Northern Ireland for 11 years and never did any when I moved to Glasgow a year and a half ago. I missed it as it's a very different and better way of life to that of endless business demands. It's a more appreciative world and one where giving a little goes a long way so I personally get a reward from just giving freely of my time and effort. I volunteered because I need a sense of purpose and in The Beatson in particular I can apply one of my best personal beliefs: if you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours! In the face of the unknown like Covid-19, social distancing and isolation, one little smile to another human being can go a long way in brightening the day!


How are you keeping busy at home?

Endless housework and dancing .... not that its dirty.... but Henry the Hoover and I do a mean cha cha cha .... I knew 4 years of ballroom and Latin dance lessons at university would come in handy somewhere - it's all comes back to you like riding a bike!


Who is looking after you?

Me! No change there. I've done it since I was 18 and have never been blessed with a suitable comrade to join me on my quirky, sometimes wacky, sometimes outright bonkers life adventure, so that is one element of the lockdown I can truly apply a keep calm and carry on mentality.


How are you keeping in touch with friends and family?

Well I'm from a farm in rural Northern Ireland and my mother is 71 in lockdown on her own over there, and she went from working full time at her age to complete isolation overnight (well sort of .... she didn't get it at the start and kept 'escaping' until a family conference call where she had to surrender her car keys! Tears and tantrums abound! It's an Irish mother thing.... Mrs Brown is actually real life for some of us!). I call her 3 times a day to keep her sane. I'm technically minded - she isn't! But she was overwhelmed with excitement when she added 6 emojis to a WhatsApp message last Saturday.

We are a long way off zoom but with both of us now with no worklife to speak about, we are having more quality conversations on things that matter. We have embraced nostalgia like reflecting on the good times and things we have done as a family in the past, rather than wallowing on the what ifs or the things we could be doing! We are firm believers that, no matter what, better things are yet to come.... so no cruises or holidays or random adventures this year .. but next year God help the world when her and I hit it!


What are you missing the most?

People and pressure... I was an event venue manager and planner for 10 years then it all stopped overnight. I'm used to meeting and interacting with hundreds of people a week and to many demands coming at me all day, every day. Then zero. Zilch. Nada! Mass gatherings went before the lockdown started so I'm at this a while longer than most. It took me a while to settle into such an extreme drop in human interactions, and it was mentally painful, the brain was still running fast but had nothing to process, but now I'm much more settled with it and embracing other things.

This is why being a volunteer became critical to my own lockdown wellbeing and mental health too, as much as being able to play a part in the national effort of fighting a pandemic. So both sides win in a way. But I do miss social interaction as I'm a people person and adore hearing about them, what they enjoy and what makes them tick. However, now I also suddenly appreciate quality of interaction over quantity! And to be honest, while I thrived on tight deadlines, competing demands, challenging the norm with every event and only getting one chance to get an event right.... failure is never an option when you do it .... it's nice to have a complete mental, emotional and physical break. Sometimes you don't realise what you actually need until its forced on you, so lockdown has had its benefits for me.


Any top tips for coping with lockdown?

Do not view it as a competition or a mandatory period of self improvement. The media are constantly barraging us with all these wonderful things people are doing to 'survive' lockdown. We should be grateful we are able to simply stay home, protect ourselves and others and save lives by this simple means. This is survival in it's own right for many and of a nation after all of this. So by coming out the other side, we gave all 'survived' lockdown.

There are no rules and nowhere is it stated you must come out of lockdown having learnt 2 new languages, developed a 6 pack, become the next star baker or earned 3 online degrees! Keep lockdown real. Do it your way. You are doing enough for you and you are doing enough for the nation by simply staying home. Ultimately never feel a failure if you do nothing. You are enough and it's a destination to get as many out of lockdown alive and well as possible, not a competition to see who comes out better off and more improved!


What are you looking forward to the most when the lockdown comes to an end?

To carry on appreciating one day at a time and no longer taking life just so seriously as you never know when things will change, stop or end.


Do you have a favourite food or meal that you are missing due to being in lockdown?

Yes. My birthday was last Saturday. It's the first time I've ever had the joy without childish malice of saying I'm having a party and you aren't invited! I boogied away on my own to cheesy 90s pop, ate copious amounts of jelly beans and drank too much diet coke (thank God I'm tee total!), but I would have killed for a battered sausage supper to celebrate.


The First Minister said that a Tunnock’s Caramel wafer is her favourite biscuit. Do you have a favourite?

Jaffa Cakes... I'll leave it up to everyone else to decide the answer.... is it a biscuit? Is it a cake? Is it a bun? Not that it really matters, I just eat the complete packet at once anyway. Why have one biscuit when you can eat 15. If a job is worth doing it is worth doing right!


Have you been doing any exercise at home? Be honest!

Absolutely not! I've been 'allergic' to serious exercise and the gym for 46 years, so no point putting myself at risk through extreme physical exertion in the middle of a global pandemic. A&E and the NHS have enough to do without me putting myself at risk through extreme activities like sit ups and lunges. Exercise would be a shock to the system. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it... I'll be fine with a wee walk!


Have you been getting out for some daily exercise?

Yes a 20 minute walk, but I miss my big walks. I have a huge sense of wanderlust, so I used to just get up and go for about 16 miles with no real plan of action. I'm sure this too shall pass and the next big adventure will be better once we get to end of the rainbow.


People across Scotland are now making (sometimes) disastrous attempts at cutting their own hair. Will you be cutting your own hair?

Absolutely not. I'm embracing it! I've wanted Brad Pitt length hair for many years, but always get so far and cut it off! My last hair cut was start of February so now I'm using lockdown to the advantage of personal vanity and coming out of lockdown trying to look better than I went in!

Do you have a message to share with our brilliant NHS and key workers?

The total is greater than the sum of the parts. Every single one of you are important and together we are always stronger. So thank you to each unique person making the big picture a success, your individual contribution counts for more than you may realise.


Thank you for your time Andrew and for all the wonderful volunteer work you're doing!

Why not read about our other Volunteer Star Martin here who is also helping at The Beatson during these times.