Jean’s story

Jean Egginton shares why the shop where she volunteers ‘feels like home’.

When Jean’s husband Clive died earlier this year, a close friend asked her if she would like to volunteer for a few hours a week in a hospice charity shop. “I just didn’t think that it was right for me, so I kept saying no,” explains Jean, 77. “Then my friend asked if I’d go to the shop just for a visit, so I said yes.”

The friend that Jean refers to is Bally Kaur – shop manager at John Taylor Hospice’s Brownhills store. “We’ve known each other for years and Bally is a wonderful person with a lovely nature,” says Jean. “I’m so grateful for her friendship and encouragement. Within one hour of visiting the shop I felt like I was at home, so I signed up as a regular volunteer!”

Jean, who lives in Willenhall, feels that volunteering in the shop has had a positive effect on her wellbeing. “I’ve always kept busy and I’ve worked my entire life,” says Jean. “I was a nurse at Manor Hospital for many years, I’ve been a police officer on the beat in Caldmore, Walsall and I have a big family – seven children, 26 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.

“When Clive became unwell, I was his primary caregiver and I nursed him at home. When I lost him I felt, and still feel, so many emotions like grief, sadness, guilt and loneliness. I asked myself so many questions like ‘did I do enough?’ and ‘what do I do now?’. We were married for nearly 30 years and I wasn’t sure what to do with myself when he was gone.

“But volunteering at the shop has helped to get me out of the house and to keep me busy again. The team are like part of my family and I love them. I really feel that I’d have fallen into deep depression if it wasn’t for Bally and the team and I tell everyone how wonderful it is at the shop.”

Jean in West Midlands Police in 1987 (left) and with fellow Brownhills retail volunteers (right).

Jean also feels that regular volunteering has benefitted her health – despite living with several serious health conditions. “I was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia seven years ago and I’m having chemotherapy,” explains Jean. “I also have angina and fibromyalgia and that can cause me to be in a lot of pain.

“I think that sitting down and feeling sorry for myself would be the worst thing I could do and it’s best to keep occupied and on the move. If you’re bereaved, feeling lonely or you’re struggling with your health, I know that volunteering may feel like the last thing you want to do but I’d encourage anyone in that situation to give it a go. Saying yes to visiting the shop was the best thing I could have done and I’ll be forever grateful that I did.”

We are in urgent need of volunteers in the following John Taylor Hospice shops:

Castle Bromwich
Castle Bromwich Shopping Centre
Timberley Lane
B34 7ED

Wylde Green
370 Birmingham Road
Sutton Coldfield
B72 1YH

Brownhills
30 High Street
WS8 6EQ

 

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