For Sharon Wotherspoon, it was the start of a whole new career when her children volunteered at their local Sue Ryder shop. That was six years ago and, after signing up as a volunteer herself, Sharon is now Shop Manager of Sue Ryder’s Mengham shop on Hayling Island.
It was definitely down to my son and daughter that I got involved with Sue Ryder – they worked in the shop as part of their Duke Of Edinburgh Award, so I got to know the manager and the assistant manager quite well and before I knew it I was a volunteer too!
My background is in admin. My ex-husband was in the Forces and we moved round a lot, so I moved from office job to office job depending on where he was posted. Initially, I started as a volunteer in the shop and I also continued to do contract work, I would therefore come and go as a volunteer when I could.
‘I have met some brilliant people’
As we lived in Emsworth and I also volunteered in the Emsworth shop I got to know a lot of the customers - and when you get to know your regular customers, you know what they will be looking for and can assist them when they come in to the shop.
The whole experience for me is great, from the customer-facing work, to working with all the volunteers from different backgrounds. I have met some brilliant people doing this, and people who I would never have met if it wasn’t for volunteering. Sometimes you can end up with a really unusual find – we had a Cartier watch recently in Emsworth!
‘Volunteering is a great way to get involved in the community’
After a while I became a lead volunteer in Emsworth, assisting the manager with the daily running of the shop, last year I applied for and became Assistant Manager. This year, I took a small leap and I moved over to our Mengham shop as a paid manager and I absolutely love it.
It’s also a great way to get involved in the community side of things. We have a local scarecrow competition coming up on Hayling Island which runs for about three weeks, and is part of a trail round the Island, so we are busy getting ready for that. The theme this year was Sport, so after having three children's horses on sticks donated and a dressage hat, we decided to go with the horse and jockey idea.
I love the creativity that the role brings, from re-arranging the shop, dressing the window displays to dressing the mannequins - I may be a grown up but I still get to play with dolls! I honestly enjoy my job so much it doesn’t actually feel like I am going to work every day.’
Could you spare some time to volunteer in one of our busy Sue Ryder shops? Find out about the many volunteering opportunities on offer here.
Sharon Wotherspoon first volunteered in Sue Ryder's Emsworth shop six years ago and is now manager of Sue Ryder's Mengham shop in Hayling Island.