Mon, June 10, 2024


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Celebrating 75 years of volunteering

We were delighted to be able to hold a reception for OR Society volunteers at the House of Lords during volunteer’s week. Sponsored by Lord Clement Jones, the reception took place in the Cholmondeley Room and Terrace, with fantastic views over the Thames. After a welcome by Lord Clement Jones, OR Society President Gilbert Owusu gave a speech thanking volunteers and acknowledging their numerous contributions to the society and wider OR community.

We also heard from Ruth Kaufman OBE, former President of The OR Society, who shared her reflections volunteering, including its long and impressive history at the ORS.

“There are many reasons people volunteer:

  • passion for the cause
  • belief that things need to be done
  • desire to share expertise
  • interest in the work
  • opportunity to do something different, meet different people, being energised and stimulated by new ideas
  • building up the CV
  • desire to ‘give something back’

 I myself have volunteered for all these reasons and more, at different times in my life, for different organisations and causes. And I’m sure that the motivations for everyone here today, and OR Society volunteers more widely, include all of these and more.

It’s just as well that there are all these reasons for different people at different life stages to volunteer, because the ORS has been reliant on volunteers since day one. I’m told that the ORS was run by volunteers for 10 years until we had our first paid staff member. We still couldn’t run The OR Society without them- volunteers touch all elements of the Society to this day.”

Ruth handed over to Professor Christine Currie, current chair of the Research Committee. Christine spoke about the present and future of volunteering with The OR Society.

“The UK is very lucky to combine OR academics and practitioners in one society, enabling a transfer of ideas and knowledge in both directions. The diversity of views is crucial to ensuring that we remain current and can spot future trends.

Events and conferences really help with building a strong network, and these can only happen after a huge amount of hard work from volunteers who take on organising roles, something as a community we are very grateful for.

It's also important that we ensure that everyone feels able to contribute and participate to OR. The work of WORAN and the Early Career Researcher Network help to encourage and nurture the OR pipeline. Having a healthy flow of diverse talent into the profession and reducing leaks along the way(!) is essential for maintaining the health of the OR discipline and, I would argue, the UK economy.

Considerable work is also done by volunteers ensuring that we input into new initiatives and maintain links with the wider scientific community. This takes time, effort and expertise. We are very thankful for all of the support that our members give us keeping up-to-date and ensuring OR has a seat at the table.

OR solves real, practical problems and members of the OR Society played a significant role during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was a real thrill to see a Professor of Operational Research on the news. We also have members working on Net Zero within the Government OR Service, and projects in healthcare, working on reducing ED waiting times and improving efficiencies in the NHS in Wales.

With the amazing set of volunteers that The OR Society has, I’m confident that these successes will continue to happen, helping to raise the profile of OR and ensure its continued success.”