At our pub lunch in October, we had the honor of awarding Shirley a certificate and gift . It was in celebration of the 15 years of support and dedication she has given to our members and charity.
Recently, I had the opportunity to talk to Shirley about her experiences.
Enrych: Tell us about yourself, Shirley.
‘Well, I’ve done many things. I’ve been a nanny, a Postie and run a B&B on the Isle of Mull. I even had a job once checking bank notes for faults.
I started my disabled care work with my father who had no legs. Later, I also worked with Dr Barnardos. When I heard about RCV (as ENRYCH was then), I thought, “What could I offer?”
Before I knew it, I was helping Peter who was in a lay-down wheel chair. It seemed like such a simple thing—spend a few hours a week to share an interest with someone. We would meet at the church in Aylesbury, where I would help Peter enjoy a cooked breakfast. Then we would listen to classical music there together.
After Peter, I volunteered for Johnny and we would do crosswords together at his home. We had so much laughter and a wonderful relationship. Even though Johnny had so much hardship, he made me appreciate life. My eyes were opened.
I also helped Caroline with jigsaw puzzles. We only managed a few pieces in the hours I would sit with her. After she died, her family gave me a beautiful puzzle case.
After Caroline, it was Sally who became my nearest and dearest. (Sally has MS) I helped with her gardening at first and later, she suggested Scrabble.
We’ve laughed and cried together. Sally can only move one arm but she truly lives her life. She is so happy. She puts me to shame!’
Enrych: What difference do you think it has made to the people you have volunteered with?
‘I like to think it gave them something to look forward to at least once a week. We always had a laugh and that’s what they wanted. We’d put the world to rights. It was always about so much more than just a crossword, or a puzzle! (laughs).
When I come to our pub lunch, I think all of our people have every reason to moan, yet together they are such a happy bunch.
You don’t hear anyone saying “Poor me”, or “Why did this happen to me”. They’ve opened my eyes to looking at life in a different way. I do admire them so much.
I like to think that I would help anyone that needed help. Isn’t that what life’s all about?’
Enrych: What do you think has been the best thing about volunteering with Enrych?
‘I think it’s the most productive thing I’ve ever done with my life. I’ve got more out of that than anything else, apart from having children. To give people laughter is such a pleasure’.
Enrych: What advice would you give to anyone out there thinking of volunteering with Enrych?
‘Go for it. You’ll never make a better choice. You really won’t. You’ll feel so fulfilled. I don’t regret a moment of my 15 years.’
Enrych: Well what an inspiration. When we spoke to Sally she told us, ‘ I have learnt a lot from Shirley. She is simply irreplaceable’.
Shirley, thank you so much!
Enrych Buckinghamshire 24 Oct 2012