What attracted you to the role?
My husband had terminal cancer and died 10 years ago. Then, I also had cancer. I recovered but had so much time on my hands and felt lonely so I went to a volunteer centre. They told me about opportunities with the BHF and when I went into the shop I felt so welcome.
It has built up my confidence so much. I went from volunteering one day to three days each week in the space of a few months. I did my NVQ through the BHF and have been on several courses. Now I cover a lot of the shops in our area when they need it. I also do the fundraising. It’s a joy, my absolute passion. I love the cause. I love the people, you feel like you’re doing something positive.
What did you do before this?
I worked in an opticians before so I had some experience of a shop environment and dealing with customers.
What happens in a typical volunteering shift?
There isn’t anything in the shop that I can’t do – everything from bringing it to selling it. Dressing the windows, till, gift aiding... It is my passion to do as much as I can. I’m now taking on a stock generator role, going round to local businesses and persuading people to donate their unwanted items to the BHF. Volunteering has brought a different person out, I don’t think I’d have had the confidence before. Now I can do whatever I want, I never say no.
What’s your favourite thing about volunteering?
I’m a people person and this allows me to meet so many. I just love it when people come in with their donations – they want us to make as much money as possible for the cause, they could take their stuff somewhere else but they choose the BHF. That’s a great feeling.
What’s your most memorable moment as a volunteer?
There are so many. I fundraise at local carnivals and went to West Ham FC to do a collection. You hear so many stories from people and that’s really rewarding.
My Godfather had a heart condition and passed away. Through visiting him you see just how much is involved with the operations, the nurses, the care – it all costs money. It’s really great to see how research is making a difference.
What would you say you have gained from volunteering?
So, so much. It has helped my confidence and I’ve learnt so many new skills. My NVQ has covered everything from how items come into the shop, how we process it and sell it and deal with volunteers.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I do yoga and I walk quite a lot. I also love spending time with my children and great grandchildren. I have to keep very busy, I can’t sit around. I like to know that I’m making a difference.
If you're feeling inspired by Pat's story, why not find out more about volunteering with us? Simply fill in the short form and we'll be in touch to tell you more about the opportunities.