Rita – 40 years of volunteering for St Gemma’s
We would like to say a heartfelt thank you to Rita Flynn who has given 40 years of voluntary service to St Gemma’s Hospice.
The team at our Street Lane shop love working with Rita. They call themselves the “dream team” and are like a big family. Alison, Myrna and Barbara, who volunteer with Rita said, “Rita is such a genuine person, full of enthusiasm, she loves coming to St Gemma’s and always makes us a wonderful cuppa!”)
This week, during Rita’s regular shift our Chief Executive, Kerry Jackson, presented Rita with a certificate, gifts and flowers to show our gratitude for her incredible commitment and dedication to volunteering to support St Gemma’s.
We caught up with Rita to find out a bit more about her amazing volunteer journey with us.
Why did you decide to volunteer?
It was my friend, Mrs Ryan, who suggested volunteering with St Gemma’s. My daughters had left home, so I was looking for something to do with my time. I knew a lot about the work of the Hospice through Mrs Ryan, as well as being local to the area. I was interviewed by Sister Mary for my first role, which was Hospitality Assistant at the Hospice.
Tell us about your volunteering journey with St Gemma’s Hospice
On my first day I arrived early, so Sister Mary asked me to iron the uniforms for the 16 volunteers we had. (We currently have nearly 900 volunteers!) Every day I would load up the trolley with tea, coffee and cakes to serve patients on the ward and would then wash up and head to the small shop in the Hospice grounds to help out. I carried on doing this role for a number of years until the Street Lane shop opened.
I was here on the very first day the Street Lane shop opened and I’ve volunteered here ever since! I enjoy every minute of it. I’ve met some wonderful people over the years who are great friends now. During my 40 years, I have done every single role in the shops from sorting through donations, to hanging and serving on the tills. I have supported 3 shops – Street Lane, Oakwood and Moortown. I’ve seen a lot of change in the charity shops over the years, especially around the quality of stock and popularity of the charity shop.
I look forward to my shift every week. Volunteering keeps me fit; both physically and mentally. I found it really hard not being able to volunteer during the pandemic but I came back in as soon as the shop opened again.
What has been your favourite moment volunteering with St Gemma’s Hospice?
There are so many moments I could share but my most memorable has to be when I met Princess Diana. I was one of the volunteers chosen to meet her and it was such a special moment talking to her about what we do at the Hospice. Princess Diana and Prince Charles visited the Hospice on 30th March 1982 to officially open the new extension and I was one of 100 invited guests to meet the couple that day.