Meet...Denise & Gill | The Hospice of St. Francis

Meet...Denise & Gill

Meet Denise and Gill, volunteers at our Abbots Shop – which first opened its doors in March 1999.

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We caught up with the pair to discuss their volunteering and how they became good friends.

Joining in 2015, Denise who describes her volunteering experience as ‘superb’ and ‘uplifting’, was keen to help in her local community when she retired from her job as a Health Visitor Assistant with the NHS.

As well as taking in donations and working behind the counter, Denise enjoys sorting and organising the jewellery; contributing to the spectacular ‘PICK N MIX’ jewellery deal that features on the shop’s Facebook, and interacting with customers.

“I have the patience to untangle the jewellery donations and if there’s a specific colour that someone has requested – I’ll look through and see if I can find something to match the description and bring it out to them.

She continues, “When I was looking to join the team, I knew several members of the Abbots Langley Hospice Shop team already. The shop seemed the perfect role for me – a real social buzz and at the heart of the community. I also live just round the corner from the shop, so it is ideal.

When I met Gill, we found that through our work, we had many mutual connections, (small world!) We also love having the music on and singing along and having a dance in the shop! We really do have a laugh. I guess that’s just our theatrical & singing sides shining through…”

Both Denise and Gill have been part of theatre groups previously, and their shared passion of drama was re-ignited having met in the shop when Gill joined in August 2016.

Gill worked previously as a primary school teacher for 24 years, teaching a variety of subjects and always had a love for theatre; taking part in many shows with a local group The Horseshoes and then Abbots Langley G & S Society, whilst Denise has been part of Kings Langley Musical Theatre Company for over 40 years, appearing in leading roles in a number of their productions. She was also Secretary for many years and is currently Vice President.  Gill is also a member and committee member of a local U3A group the Ver-Cone-Valley.

Gill volunteers front of house, operating the till and serving customers. “I started my volunteering here when I retired in 2016. I popped in to the shop a few weeks after and it has been the best thing I have done in my retirement.  I have reconnected with loads of old friends that I had not seen in a while due to work commitments. 

The shop really is the social hub for our village; we have many regulars who visit us daily just pop in to say hello. I think we could be one of the busiest shops.”

Denise adds, “Shop Manager Trevor, would most likely describe us as very talkative – we are known as ‘the terrible twosome’ (as a joke haha)!  

We work together every Tuesday morning. Gill is popular as she brings in delicious treats every week for all the staff to enjoy on shift. These include caramel buns and Chelsea buns! We are spoilt!”  Gill adds, “…Trevor’s favourite is bread pudding!”

On the subject of tasty treats, Denise said, “As part of the Volunteer events held throughout June for #VolunteersWeek both Gill and I attended the afternoon tea at the Hospice for the Platinum Jubilee.  We both also took part in the Hospice fashion show back in 2019,”.

Gill explains, “The fashion show at Shendish Manor was a lot of fun! We did several outfit changes and got to meet other volunteers from the Hospice. Everyone was super supportive when we walked down the catwalk and clapped. It was a wonderful atmosphere. I heard on the grapevine there will be another coming up in the New Year… Do go! It’s a fantastic evening and all in support of a great cause!”

Describing how rewarding volunteering is to her, Gill continues “You feel tired at the end of the shift for the variety of work, but it’s not from exhaustion, more an ‘accomplished tired’. Four hours of sorting donations, helping run the shop and serving customers – makes you come away feeling on a complete high.”

Denise adds, “If you’re thinking about volunteering, at any age it’s a fantastic way to meet new people and make new friends. It is also great for building confidence and giving back to your local community. For us, we also feel that we are helping support the Hospice.

Shop Manager, Trevor concludes… “I love working for the Hospice, my favourite part is building relationships with our customers and the community.  Volunteers are the key to our shops and the hospice running, we value the time you give, time is so precious making every minute count. We offer a warm friendly sustainable environment with lots of love support tea and cake! So use time wisely and make a difference in your community by volunteering for your hospice. We look forward to welcoming you! Pop in or apply online!

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