Minister of the Month: Gareth Hopkins
We love our volunteers at the Ministry and every month we like to celebrate them by handpicking our ‘Minister of the Month’. How do we make these tough choices? It’s not easy but every time we reflect on our amazing pool of volunteers we’re in awe of how fortunate we are to have such talented people on our side and this is one way of us saying, thank you – you are simply brilliant!
Hi, my name is: Gareth A Hopkins
I volunteered as: Illustrator, Writing Mentor, Comic Book Lead, Chief, probably a couple more somewhere.
I live in: Essex
My favourite story is: “Battle Of The Diamond Sword” or “Bella”, or the one where the speck of dust’s greatest dream was to grow into a bigger speck of dust whilst terrified of a vampire duck (that wore a top hat).
What I do for a living: On top of my job in educational assessment, I’m an illustrator and artist. If I’m known for anything it’s my abstract comics, notably ‘The Intercorstal: 683’. I’ve got a son who constantly talks about Minecraft and a daughter that draws rainbows at every available opportunity.
I decided to volunteer at the Ministry when I saw a tweet for illustration volunteers and it felt like something adventurous I could do. I’d not done any live illustration before, or worked with children in any capacity, but it looked like something fun and different to get involved in.
Were you nervous about anything before starting? My first experience of the MoS was observing another illustrator. So without any actual responsibility, and nothing I could get wrong, I don’t remember being nervous. That was quite a long time ago, though, so it could just be my memory which is dodgy at the best of times.
My best experience in the volunteering process was: There have genuinely been too many. Discovering that the chief sometimes spoke like a cockney pirate was very personally illuminating. I think probably the best was working with Melinda on ‘Bella’ for the first Storybook project, which in turn became both my daughter’s favourite book and (from the sounds of it) the impetus for Melinda to dedicate her life to writing. But, I mean… every session is incredible in its own way. I always feel very lucky to have gotten to take part.
What has been the most unexpected thing about volunteering? At one of the Halloween parties there were foods set out to look like body parts and other gross stuff – one of the ones I tried turned out to be a decorative candle, though… that was pretty unexpected.
Volunteering at the Ministry, It’s made me more confident for sure – drawing in front of children and finding out that I could just about cope with whatever they came up with was an eye-opener.
If I had to describe the Ministry in 3 words, they would be… Quack Woof Meow
What would you say to other people thinking of volunteering with the Ministry? Give it a go. It’s been an amazingly positive part of my life and I can’t recommend it enough.