Big Hugs!

Pat's Story

Pat Chinnock – Emporium Volunteer

The volunteers of Lakelands Hospice are the lifeblood of the hospice work. Without their commitment of time and energy, the hospice would not be able to keep its doors open. The hours donated and the care given by each and every one of our volunteers, whether they're manning a stall at one of our Bazaars, driving the minibus to collect the patients to the day hospice or sorting the bric-a-brac at our shop or warehouse to raise us vital funds, it is what enables us to provide services to the community.

One such volunteer is Pat Chinnock. Pat has been a stalwart hospice volunteer for many years now, mainly working at our shop in the town centre. We went to talk to her about why she volunteers, what it is about volunteering she loves most and why she will keep it up for as long as she can!

How long have you been volunteering here?

We started off in the shop that was over the road, moved to another shop – so I've been volunteering in all for ten years this year.

I've always worked, and when I retired – I worked 'til I was 63 – after I finished, I just couldn't sit at home. I started work when I was 15. Even when I was with the family, I worked part time.
It's the best job I've had and we don't get paid. I really love it.

I know most people who volunteer here. I know the community here, they're very nice. There are different groups on different days. They're all very nice, you just really get on with it and you have a bit of a laugh, you meet people.

There are people here who come in to the shop who I used to go to school with and I never spoke to them at school then but now they come in and get to be friendly. It's lovely. I'm a people's person. I don't think I'd like to work out the back.

So what does your role at the shop entail?

I'm front of shop. Serving teas and the food and what have you, general bric-a-brac. We call ourselves the 'front girls'; we're front of house with the customers. There are different ladies who come in and sort out the clothes and such – one lady comes in just to sort out all the bric-a-brac if we've got enough behind the counter, there are some volunteers who just sort the donations out the back. But we're all versatile, we all will do different things, all help each other out.

It's good that there is a role for everyone.

There's always something you can do. People say to me 'ooh, I couldn't work out the front here' but I say 'come in, there's plenty of jobs you could do, loads of jobs'. People say to me 'I've finished work. I'm really lost' and I'll say 'well, do you want a form [to apply to volunteer]'?

Everyone is touched by cancer – my sister died of cancer, and my niece had breast cancer. It happens in most families. I always support them, even when I'm not volunteering I'll come in for my lunch and such. I'll always pop in if I'm up the town. 'Cos you never know when you're going to need this [the hospice's service], so where I can help, I will.

People are ever so kind. If people come in for a cup of tea, just 70p, they'll give you a £1 and tell you to keep the change. Corby people are so generous.

What do you enjoy most?

I just enjoy the people really.  I enjoy every aspect of it really, what we do and everybody is very kind. We get a lot of the same people in, like this gentlemen here (indicates a customer sat at the next table) who was struggling this morning so I took him his tea – we don't do table service but if you notice a customer is struggling you'll obviously help. You get to know the people here, you can see them coming from outside and we'll get their orders ready for them by the time they get to the counter. We say to them 'you better not ever change your order!'.

There's a real community spirit up here then?

Yes. It's more of a social thing really, I think so.

I'm 73 now, and I keep saying 'I'll wait 'til I'm 75 [to stop]' but I'll keep it up as long as I can. My sister is 77 and she's still volunteering, she works with the books here at the shop. I've been diagnosed with early Alzheimer's, and some days I'm better than others. And so the mental health nurses have just said to me, 'keep on, keep on with it'. So I will.

And I do theatre trips and holidays. I've been doing them for ten years. And since I've worked here, even some of the customers come. And I'll do that for as long as I can.

Do you have a fondest memory, one day that stands out above the others?

Oh, no, you've put me on the spot! No not really, because, every day is a good day. I've never come in and said 'I wish I wasn't here'. Never ever.

It's just so enjoyable. I don't think I'd work anywhere I wasn't happy, but here we all get on well and we just really get on it with and enjoy it.

If you are interesting in the volunteering opportunities we have here at the hospice, both at the Emporium shop, the Warehouse and at the hospice or even for our fundraising events, we would love to hear from you! Please contact our Volunteer Co-ordinator Laura on 01536 747755 or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

volunteerpat volstory Feb2015