On the first day of Volunteers' Week, Ross Kemp is swapping the Queen Vic for The Volunteer pub in Regents Park, taking pandemic volunteers for a well-deserved drink and launching "Cheers for Volunteers".

Recognising the incredible effort of the 12.4 million volunteers who stepped up to support during the pandemic, Ross in partnership with the Together Coalition and Royal Voluntary Service, is launching ‘Cheers for Volunteers’ as part of the National Thank You Day on the 4th July.

Ross is not new to volunteering having spent the last few months helping a range of charities and having filmed a documentary on volunteering at the start of the pandemic.

The volunteers who joined Ross at The Volunteer in Regents Park were Regan Hirst (24), Sonny Purba (54) and Kelly Southam (37) from Royal Voluntary Service and Sujay Paul (39) from Rotary.

Ross Kemp is one of many celebrities including Bear Grylls, Felicity Kendal, Gary Lineker and Dame Judy Dench who are backing the national ‘Thank You Day’ on 4th July. Thank You Day will see members of the public join in with a series of events in their communities to show appreciation to all those who have carried us through the pandemic. The day will include a 5pm ‘Cheers for Volunteers’ when the public are being encouraged to raise a glass (or mug of tea!) to thank all the volunteers who did so much to help.

"What a fantastic bunch of people. It was a pleasure to take them out for a drink and I was honoured to kick off ‘Cheers for Volunteers’. Wherever you will be at 5pm on the 4th July please join me in raising your drink of choice to all of the volunteers who have seen us through the pandemic. The last year has been hard for all of us, but we also saw it bringing our communities closer together. Whatever happens next in the pandemic we’re going to need to keep that community spirit going."

Ross Kemp

Regan Hirst (24) from Doncaster, has been volunteering with Royal Voluntary Service's Doncaster Dementia Support service for two years. Despite many of the activities moving online, Regan has continued to support clients and carers to whom her support is invaluable.

"I started volunteering to feel like I was I was doing something to help. After I finished my art degree, I wanted to train as an art therapist and felt like volunteering with the Dementia Service was a great first step. You don’t volunteer for yourself, but my voluntary work has been the most fulfilling of my life. I have been hosting virtual art classes and am so pleased to be back doing garden and home visits."

Regan Hirst

"The volunteer effort over the past year has been nothing short of phenomenal. The 12.4m who have stepped forward to support the pandemic both nationally and locally deserve our most heartfelt thanks and should be immensely proud of themselves. The “Cheers for Volunteers” as part of National Thank You Day is a fantastic way for people to come together and express their gratitude."

Catherine Johnstone CBE, Chief Executive at Royal Voluntary Service

Throughout the pandemic, Royal Voluntary Service volunteers have provided essential support to those in need, with the charity tailoring its existing services to ensure that no client goes without help. These include companionship calls, grocery and prescription deliveries, free food packs to vulnerable people and NHS teams, socially distanced visits, home library deliveries and medical and community transport journeys.

Ross and many of the volunteers were drinking ‘Cheers for Volunteers’ a beer that will be on tap across the country for Thank You Day. The beer is being supported by dozens of breweries across the country and will be on tap at thousands of pubs. Pubs across the UK will be inviting regulars and their local community - including volunteers - to join them for a toast and cheers at 5pm on the 4th July.

The "Cheers for Volunteers" beer on National Thank You Day has been coordinated by The Good Beer Co and is beingsupported by over 50 breweries, pub chains and organisations including Adnams, Toast Ale and the British Beer and Pub Association. The beer will be available in pubs on the day in an alcoholic and alcohol free versions.

A bottled version of the beer is in development and will becreated and sold to raise funds for Royal Voluntary Service and the Together Coalition and ongoing support to volunteers through "Cheers to Volunteers" after the National Thank You Day.

"It's brilliant that we can thank our hard working volunteers and support our hard-hit pubs and breweries at the same time. It's amazing to see so many breweries and pubs across the country coming on board to support Cheers for Volunteers and show their gratitude to those who have helped us through the pandemic."

James Grugeon, founder of The Good Beer Co who are the masterminds behind the ‘Cheers for Volunteers’ beer

"We are delighted to lend our support to ‘Cheers for Volunteers’ and really pleased to see pubs across Britain getting behind a toast to hard working volunteers in their local communities."

Emma McClarkin, CEO of the British Beer and Pub Association

"This is a really great way to thank volunteers for everything they have done and are still doing to support our communities through the COVID-19 pandemic. We're proud to support "Cheers for Volunteers" and I'm looking forward to raising a glass at one of our pubs on National Thank You Day."

Fergus Fitzgerald, Head Brewer at Adnams

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