Sort it Beat it

Norma West

Norma West sorts the jewellery in our Reading shop - and even cancer hasn't stopped her.

Norma West has volunteered most days of the week at the BHF shop in Reading for the past 12 years. She began tagging and sorting in the store room, and went on to work on the till, and even run the shop on Sundays. Her speciality is jewellery, which she sorts, prices and displays to its best advantage.

Last September, Norma, 68, was admitted to hospital with bone cancer. She spent three months in hospital and a further five months recovering at home.

She had an experimental treatment that put the cancer into remission but left her unable to use her arms and legs. Slowly, Norma had to build up her strength and learn to walk again.

I was quite shy when I started, but now I have made lots of friends

While recovering at home, Norma continued to sort out the jewellery for the BHF shop. She says she enjoyed being able to do something positive. “Being stuck indoors when I was ill drove me mad,” she says. “Sorting the jewellery gave me something to do. Some of it is all tangled, and I find it very therapeutic undoing it – I can spend hours just getting a knot out of a chain.”

Norma has now returned to work in the shop even though she needs to use a walking stick and can’t stand up for long periods. “I was so glad to be back,” she says.

Working in the shop has also given Norma more confidence. “I was quite shy when I first started,” she says, “but now I have made lots of friends. The customers are brilliant.”

Not surprisingly, Norma is a big jewellery fan, and some of her favourite necklaces have been bought in the BHF shop. “I would rather do that than buy it new,” she says. “And whenever I visit another town, I always go into the BHF shop to see what they have.”

Read how donations help children like Cordelia get to school, and watch a touching video

Read about Diane and how she makes sure that the donated toys look their very best

Read about David, who carries out a whole range of roles in one of our shops

Read how Maddie has found that giving time to the BHF has benefited her too

How you can help

To help us fight back against congenital heart disease, fill a bag with good-quality clothes, shoes, books, handbags, DVDs, CDs, bric-a-brac or children’s toys and bring your donations to your local BHF charity shop.

To take advantage of our collection service, call us on 0800 915 7000. For furniture and electrical items, visit our free collection website.

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