An enthusiastic new charity volunteer has spoken of the positive impact it has had on his life. Alan Tyrrell has been helping East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) since May, after reading an article about The Big Help Out campaign.
He was on the lookout for a new venture after being “hit for six” by the break-up of a long-term relationship. The 60-year-old started helping at EACH’s shop in Histon Road, Cambridge, and now, in addition, has signed up for the charity’s Help at Home service.
“I see it as a two-way street and very much a case of turning a negative into a positive,” said Alan, who lives near Waterbeach.
“If my circumstances hadn’t changed, I wouldn’t be volunteering or even know such opportunities exist. I love being able to support this amazing charity, but also feel volunteering is helping me.
“It’s done me the world of good because what happened earlier this year hit me hard. I was struggling for a while, not sleeping and feeling lonely.
“My life had changed so quickly and unexpectedly and I needed something to get me out the house. When I was with my partner, we were always out and about at weekends and I was never at home. I’m the kind of person who loves being busy.”
The seed of volunteering was first planted after Alan spotted an advert for EACH at Twenty Pence Garden Centre, in Wilburton. The charity was on the lookout for people willing to help maintain the grounds of its Milton hospice.
Alan was keen but unable to help because he could only spare time at weekends, due to his full-time job at Masters Logistical, in Stretham, near Ely.
A few weeks passed before he read about The Big Help Out, which launched nationally in March. Potential volunteers were being encouraged to spare some time and make a contribution to their community, as a way of marking the King’s Coronation.
Former lorry driver Alan went online and read about opportunities at Histon Road. He signed up and has been helping there since completing his first shift on the Bank Holiday Monday of the Coronation weekend (8th May).
“I liked the sound of it straightaway,” he said.
“I did a bit of shop work many years ago and thought it could be just what I needed, in a busy environment and around people. Thankfully, that’s exactly the way it’s turned out and it’s doing me the world of good being around so many friendly, lovely people.
“The staff and my fellow volunteers have been warm and welcoming since day one and the whole experience has been fantastic.”
In tandem with his retail role, Alan has also signed up for EACH’s Help at Home service, which involves supporting families by providing vital practical support with chores like cooking, cleaning, decorating, gardening, dog-walking and DIY.
He got the idea after meeting Help at Home Volunteer Co-ordinator Marie Huggins at an open gardens event at Milton on 4th June.
“I love the idea and can’t wait to get started,” he said.
“Jobs like gardening and decorating are right up my street and the thought of being able to help people, and make a genuine difference, certainly appeals.”
To read more about Help at Home, click here.
EACH supports families and cares for children and young people with life-threatening conditions. In addition to Milton, it has two other hospices in Suffolk and Norfolk.