“I feel I have received back far more than I have ever put into volunteering for the charity”

Hear from Morpeth Shop volunteer Katy Barr and her Manager Heather Gray, on friendship, family and fabulous window displays.

We often hear that our St Oswald’s Hospice charity shops are like families. A place for shopping, working and volunteering but also somewhere to make friends, connections and create a community.

That’s exactly the case in our Morpeth shop, particularly for longstanding volunteer, Katy Barr.

“I love volunteering in the shop. We volunteers are all very happy and so many of us have said it feels like we are an extended family”.

Katy joined the Morpeth shop as a volunteer 7 years ago after her daughter had volunteered in store to gain work experience. Once her daughters had ‘flown the nest’ Katy decided it was a good idea to volunteer in the Morpeth shop herself as it had always seemed vibrant and friendly.

After 7 years, Katy’s dedication and enthusiasm for the shop is second to none. However, it’s not only her commitment and customer service skills that have been recognised but her incredible window displays, which she plans for all year round.

Shop manager Heather Gray, said:

“Katy’s window displays don’t only look good but they sell the goods!

“If it’s in the window, it’s going to sell. When Katy puts a Jeff Rowland painting in the window they sell like wildfire. She is always telling customers about the paintings, giving them advice and tips on how to display them.”

pink pearls
sunshine autumn

Katy added:

“I’ve been given the opportunity to be creative, dressing the window and other parts of the shop. I love coming in each week, the stock changes on an hour to hour basis as donations flow in.”

Images 1, 2, 3: A selection of Katy’s window displays showcasing donated clothes, accessories and bric-a-brac that have been available to purchase from the Morpeth shop.

After Katy sadly lost her mother in March 2023, volunteering in the shop acted as a form of comfort for her.

Katy explained:

“My mother’s loss has been devastating but I found great love and support coming into the shop. Being busy and distracted amongst a wonderful force of volunteers has helped so much in the grieving process.”

Katy added warmly:

“I feel I have received back far more than I have ever put into volunteering for the charity”.

Heather, Katy and Duchess of Northumberland

The Duchess of Northumberland’s garden party

When Shop Manager, Heather, was asked to nominate a ‘stand out’ volunteer to attend an afternoon tea hosted by The Duchess of Northumberland in her role as Lord-Lieutenant of Northumberland, it was an easy decision nominating Katy. The garden party, held at The Alnwick Garden brings together hundreds of volunteers and carers across Northumberland to celebrate the time they give.

Image: Katy, Heather and The Duchess of Northumberland, Jane Percy (middle).

Heather said:

“Katy has been through a lot recently with the passing of her mother. She is always coming into the shop to help out and gets stuck in. When I was asked to nominate a volunteer to attend the Duchess of Northumberland’s afternoon tea, Katy was the ideal candidate.”

Nominated volunteers were encouraged to invite a plus one along to the garden party and Katy asked none other than her shop manager, Heather to accompany her to the event.

Katy explained:

“Heather has been a wonderful strength. She encouraged me to come into the shop to work as often as I wanted too after my mother passed. She takes time to know each and every volunteer working for her. She is such an optimistic person with time for everyone – so I wanted to give back and invite her as my plus one to the garden party.”

Katy and Heather had a lovely day at The Duchess of Northumberland’s garden party, listening to live music, chatting with other volunteers and enjoying cakes and cuppas courtesy of Greggs.

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