There's no such thing as a typical volunteer. Whether they're working front of house welcoming and serving customers, keeping the shop floor tidy and fresh, or organising stock behind the scenes, all our volunteers bring something special to the role they do.
Every volunteer plays an essential role in the smooth running of our charity shops, helping us raise vital funds for Yorkshire people affected by cancer. We've interviewed a few of our fantastic volunteers so you can see for yourself. Click here if you're interested in volunteering with us.
“I’m a people person,” says Betty, 72, who has been volunteering at the Yorkshire Cancer Research shop in Tadcaster for two years. “I like to interact with people, so that’s why I work on the till.”
Betty loves being front of house, talking to customers and helping them find exactly what they’re looking for.
Before retiring, Betty worked in lots of different roles, from practice manager at a doctor’s surgery to packing food. She now volunteers for 13 hours a week.
She says: “I’ve lost lots of family to cancer. I just want to help the research. It’s important that the funds we raise stay in Yorkshire. Yorkshire Cancer Research is a local charity for local people, and I feel reassured knowing where the money is going.
“I enjoy the camaraderie with the other staff. We’re like a big, happy family with a bit of banter. If you like meeting people, being active and getting out, then I recommend volunteering. It keeps you young.”
After taking early retirement from her role as Head of Design at Nestlé, Glynis began helping Yorkshire Cancer Research’s Tadcaster Shop by creating posters and other artwork.
She soon started volunteering in the shop, juggling shifts with her work as a full-time artist, and has now been a valued member of the team for 15 years.
“I lost both my parents through cancer, as well as other family members and friends”, Glynis, 67, explains. “A friend from junior school died when he was just a teenager from cancer, so from an early age I was aware of the devastating consequences it can have.”
Glynis has a love of antiques, bric-a-brac and collectables – which she sees plenty of while working in the back room and sorting through donations.
She says: “It’s a very diverse job. One minute you’ll get a lovely handbag in, another day you’ll get a shirt and tie that’s never been out of the box or lost property from the local swimming pool that’s never been claimed. It’s brilliant.
“I recommend people try volunteering and see if they like it. You’ve got to be prepared to work and work hard – but you might end up with some really good friends.”
“I’m there whenever there’s a need to give a helping hand,” says John, who has been supporting the charity’s shop in Tadcaster for more than four years.
The 65-year-old acts as the shop’s general handyman, assisting with tasks like locking up, lifting heavy things and setting up stalls at local events.
However, his speciality is children’s toys and games. From checking battery-operated toys to make sure they’re working correctly to counting the pieces in jigsaws, he spends many hours ensuring children are 100% satisfied with their second-hand possessions.
“The last thing you want to do is buy a jigsaw, get it home and none of the pieces are there. I fill my boot with toys and games that need checking and spend my evenings making sure they’re safe and clean and that all the pieces are accounted for,” John, a former HR manager, explains.
“It’s interesting seeing what toys there are about these days. I end up spending a lot of time on the internet trying to work out what they are, so that’s quite a challenge. It helps when I’m thinking about what toys to buy my four-year-old granddaughter!”
John says the best part of the job is seeing how much has been raised thanks to his hard work.
“It makes it all worthwhile. It’s all to help people living in Yorkshire,” he adds.
Vicky is a former market trader, which comes in handy when there’s lots of bric a brac to sort out and pricing up to do at the Yorkshire Cancer Research shop in Tadcaster.
The 69-year-old also owned and managed her own newsagents for many years, so she can usually be found front of house, chatting to customers and making sure they find what they need.
“I live on my own,” Vicky says. “So volunteering at the shop is a break from watching the tele. We have a good laugh together. We’re all a bit nutty but very dedicated. We’re a proper team.”
Vicky’s brother is currently being treated for prostate cancer, and her sister-in-law has survived cancer four times.
She adds: “You can be on your feet from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave, and I’m often very tired when I get home. But it’s all worth it because you’re raising money for a good cause. You’re doing for people less fortunate than yourself.”
Irene started volunteering at the Yorkshire Cancer Research shop in Tadcaster after suffering from depression.
“They recommended I try volunteer work,” she explains. “I’d been coming into the shop as a customer for donkey’s years. My dad used to bring me in when I was young to have a nosey. It just seemed the ideal thing to do.
“It’s good for me to be busy. It’s my get-away. While I’m here I’m not thinking of everything else. I’m able to concentrate on what I’m doing.”
Irene looks after the toys, games and books. She currently works on Mondays and Fridays, and happily fills in whenever needed.
She says: “It’s full on. Sometimes the back room is so full of stuff that’s been donated that you just look at it and laugh. But it’s worthwhile when you see kids so happy with their new toys because you’ve gone that extra mile. It makes your day to see a smile on somebody’s face. You get so much satisfaction from it.”
When Karen was made redundant, she took up an opportunity to become caretaker and cleaner at a local school. The role included working in the mornings and evenings, which meant she had time to fill during the day.
“I was walking down the street in Tadcaster and noticed an advertisement for volunteers in the window of the Yorkshire Cancer Research shop,” Karen said. “It felt like the perfect opportunity to volunteer some time for charity. I always loved shop work but gave it up to be there for my children. It’s tiring but I enjoy it.”
The 56-year-old works in the back room on a Monday and Friday, helping to sort through newly donated goods. She is particularly passionate about helping Yorkshire Cancer Research because her mum survived breast and stomach cancer more than 10 years ago.
She says: “It motivates me, but I also do it because it helps other people. I love everything about the job, from what it entails to where the money goes, to help people like my mum.”
Audrey, 81, has been volunteering at Yorkshire Cancer Research’s Tadcaster Shop for an incredible 30 years. She first started as a ‘Saturday girl’, and as soon as she retired from her job as a tutor in a prison she started going in during the week.
“I’ve lost quite a few friends to cancer,” she says. “That’s what made me first think of helping a cancer charity shop. I felt I wanted to come and do something.”
Audrey does anything required in the shop, from sorting through donations to stocking the shelves and working behind the till. She currently helps out for half a day a week.
“We’ve had some really good finds donated to the shop over the years, from jewellery to pottery and vintage dresses,” Audrey says. “It’s amazing that people still keep bringing us things. They’re very true to the shop and very loyal.”
Audrey says the best thing about volunteering is the people she’s met and the friends she’s made over the years.
“When you get older you tend not to go out as much, but if you’re committed to something then you do. It gets you out of the house. The nicest thing is that we all get on well together,” Audrey explains.
“It’s really rewarding when you think how much money has been made. I feel proud to be a part of that. We’re supporting a charity that’s there for us who live here and it helps so many people.”
If you're interested in volunteering at one of our three charity shops we'd love to hear from you. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and name your preferred shop from our Northallerton, Tadcaster or Knaresborough locations.