Volunteer Story - Margaret Dews

Thursday 03 November 2016

As soon as I retired (in York) I started working as a volunteer, in those days with young people. When a friend was diagnosed with terminal cancer I completed a book of verse I was writing, dedicated it to her and gave all my profits to York Cancer Care. On moving to Stratford I contacted Carole, the Retail Manager at the time to see if I could sell the book here in aid of the Hospice. She mentioned that the book shop was due to open within weeks!

I have always loved books so now my verses became secondary and I jumped at the chance to volunteer.  I have worked at the book shop ever since it opened. I love the books, the people and being able to use my knowledge and interests to support the Hospice.

On an average day, I look after several sections of the book shop, all related to my interests: Foreign Languages, Literature, Poetry, Religion and Reference. So there are masses of donations every week!

First I sort them out, then take them to the shelves and file in the new books, recycling any which have been sitting there for a long time unsold. I also help on the till, selling and chatting to customers. Every week we receive many boxes of book donations which have to be sorted, stickered for Gift Aid and, priced once their retail value has been checked on line. We are all kept very busy and I go home very tired!

There are terrific benefits to be gained from meeting, working with and learning from customers and colleagues.

You meet such a wide variety of people and it has been great to make friends with Diane and the other Monday volunteers. It adds a completely different dimension to the rest of the week. I have exercise (constantly up and down stairs with heavy books) and never sit down; very good for me!

I’ve learned new skills, been introduced, often by customers, to novels/novelists I’d never read before and so have widened my reading. I love words – both spoken and written, their etymology and the way they are used, so my section of the shop suits me down to the ground, especially as they give me the opportunity to keep up my interest in languages(s).

I would suggest that everyone just do it!  It’s only four hours a week and the benefits and satisfactions are immeasurable in comparison. You will meet lots of interesting people, including lovely colleagues. You will have the chance to use your talents in the service of others and you will learn a lot too! Working to help the Hospice gives you a worthwhile purpose in life once you have retired and if you are lucky enough to find a role compatible with your background and interests, that’s a double plus!!

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