Age is no barrier when it comes to carrying out voluntary work. Just ask Joyce Hammond.
The grandmother refuses to slow down and gives up three days a week to help at the East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) shop in Felixstowe Road, Ipswich.
She carries out a variety of roles, always with a smile on her face, and pays special attention to the store’s bric-a-brac section.
Joyce was speaking during EACH’s We Need You campaign, which launched this week and runs until 28th January.
The aim is to recruit more shop volunteers like her, to help in one of the charity’s 44 shops across East Anglia.
“I enjoy it very much – if I didn’t I wouldn’t do it,” said the spritely mum-of-one, who has two grandchildren.
“I love the companionship, meeting new people and making a connection with them.
“For example, I once got talking to a lady whose grandson was terminally ill.
“After he sadly passed away, she came into the shop to tell me and she still comes in now.
“It’s nice to think you’re helping in some way, just by being friendly and talking. I find that very satisfying and rewarding.”
Joyce, keen to keep her age under wraps, has been volunteering for nearly seven years and got involved after a friend told her the shop was in need of extra help.
The rest is history and when asked if her age is ever a barrier, she said: “Of course not! I’m fortunate to have good health and feel it does me good.
“I live alone so what’s the point in me sitting at home wasting time when I could be here around people trying to help others?
“I like having a laugh and smile with people. You might as well have a sense of humour.
“I’d recommend volunteering to anyone, if they have some spare time. Even if it’s just for a couple of hours, it’ll make a real difference.”
Joyce, who lives in Ipswich and volunteers on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays, was nominated by EACH to join The Duchess of Cambridge for a special carol service at Westminster Abbey, on 8th December.
The service ‘recognised, celebrated and brought together’ those who have done incredible work in their communities and was themed around the concepts of love and compassion, community and togetherness.
EACH was asked to put forward a small number of ‘unsung heroes’, in particular those who have gone above and beyond during the pandemic, and one of them was Joyce.
“It was a fantastic, wonderful occasion and a privilege and honour to be there,” she said.
“Being invited was totally unexpected but very much appreciated.”
Felixstowe Road Shop Manager Steven Sayer hailed Joyce’s positivity and described her as a “real firecracker”.
He said: “She’s the reason I’m here.
“When I was a customer, before starting to work at the shop, I always loved seeing her and used to call her ‘boss’. I’ve always looked up to her.
“I started volunteering and then joined the paid staff as relief and support manager, for a couple of years.
“I’ve been shop manager since November and it’s an absolute pleasure working with Joyce.
“She’s got such great energy.
“She’s a real livewire – a real character, full of laughs and jokes – and one of those people who always turns a negative into a positive.
“She’s a lovely lady and a real people person with so much charisma.
“The customers love her. They’re used to seeing her and come in and ask for her.
“Joyce is fitter and quicker than I am and in addition to her three regular days, she’ll always do extra shifts without hesitation if I’m in trouble.
“She really is a role model and proves you’re never too old to volunteer.
“She’s living proof that you can do anything if you put your mind to it.”