Schoolboy Rhys Gill says volunteering is for everyone and has urged more young people to support worthy causes like East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH).
The 15-year-old juggles schoolwork with giving up his entire weekend to help at the EACH shop in Huntingdon.
He spends Saturdays and Sundays sorting donations, organising stock and helping customers at the Chequers Court store.
He says he would recommend it to anyone, regardless of their age or previous experience.
“Genuinely, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done,” he said.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity and I feel motivated every time I walk through the door.
“The staff and volunteers have been so friendly and welcoming and I haven’t got anything negative to say about anyone.
“I’m happy to help with anything and everything and always look forward to going in at the weekend.
“I even wake up and arrive early because I want to do as much as I can to help.
“I like spending as much time as possible with these people because they’re like a second family. It’s such a lovely group.”
Rhys, who is preparing for his mock GCSEs in June and July, started volunteering in mid-January.
He went in looking for work experience and spoke to manager Loretta Impey.
When it transpired the shop was low on volunteers, he dutifully offered his services.
“My family and friends support me and like the fact I enjoy it so much,” said Rhys, who lives within walking distance of the shop and is a student at Hinchingbrooke School, on the outskirts of Huntingdon.
“They can see how happy it makes me and we all love the idea of giving something back to our community.
“I’m always telling my friends to get involved and, without doubt, it’s something I’d recommend to anyone.
“It’s such an amazing place and not somewhere you could ever get bored.
“Volunteering is also something that can open doors in the future.
“My ambition is to work in law but I’m also interested in the retail industry.
“It’s one of the directions I’d like to take my career and running or managing my own charity shop is something I’d love to do one day.”
There are a host of roles available at EACH and the minimum age to start volunteering is 14.
The charity supports families and cares for children and young people with life-threatening conditions across East Anglia.
It has three hospices, including one at Milton, and seven shops across Cambridgeshire.
In addition to Huntingdon, the others are in Histon Road and Cherry Hinton Road (both Cambridge), Cherry Hinton, Ely, Soham and Whittlesey.