Lifelong High Peak resident, Pat Eckersley got involved with volunteering at Blythe House’s department store in Whaley Bridge in 2010, after suffering from severe emotional and physical stress following a car accident. Pat’s sister, Lynne, gave her the encouragement she needed to walk through the door on her first day – and now she volunteers around five times per week!

Pat says: ‘Following a car crash, I was in a very vulnerable state and left my job. My sister Lynne volunteered for Blythe House and suggested I gave it a go, to help me build my confidence back up. On my first shift, I was a nervous wreck and was shaking uncontrollably, but the more I came, the more I realized how much I enjoyed myself.

‘I have always worked with people in my previous jobs, so being here gave me the opportunity to meet and chat to new and lovely people. I started out working in the old shop, now Finders Keepers in Whaley Bridge, and would undertake tasks including serving customers at the till, or sorting out donations. Lynne and I also used to PAT test all of the electrical goods that were donated.

‘When we came to the new shop, just a little bit further up Market Street, I also worked on the shop floor, but I found I enjoyed sorting through donations and so I started to volunteer more behind the scenes, as the resident “quality controller!” It’s my job to look through all of the clothes, bric-a-brac, furniture and other items that people donate, and get them ready to go out onto the shop floor to be sold. I furnished my whole new flat from this shop – including donating my old furniture, and swapping it for items that would be more appropriate for the room space.’

‘What I’d say to potential new volunteers is to give it a try! It might seem nerve-wracking at first but just give a go, and hopefully you’ll love it as much as I do. This role helps me, and I know that I’m helping other people in return – it’s a two way street. There’s also a very good team of volunteers here, we’re like family, and we support each other through the bad times and have a laugh through the good times too.’