Vicki's story

After 20 busy years working in the housing sector Vicki Payne and her husband, Philip, decided to take early retirement and go on an adventure, swapping the beautiful city of Wells for an exciting European journey. As well as the experience of a lifetime in their lovely caravan, Vicki also found the time to do some volunteering along the way.

From volunteering for a dog charity in France to working in a charity shop for a Spanish hospice, Vicki has done it all with a smile on her face and although the weather may not be quite the same approaches volunteering at St Margaret’s with the same can-do attitude.

“I’ve always been a really active person. I used to be a social housing officer for the Aster Group,” Vicki said. “I loved my job, so it was hard for me to retire early.

“Before I retired, I had to reapply for my role, during this time Phillip and I started talking about what we’d do if neither of us worked, travelling was big on the agenda so from then on we saved and saved and four years later were in a position to up stick and start our adventure.

“We spent two months in France and while we were there, I volunteered for a local dog charity which was great, there were lots of ex pats as well as lots of French people who would bring in lovely homemade cakes. I met some lovely friends who I still speak to now.

“Fast forward two years and our next stop was Spain. Not one to stay still I started volunteering for Cudeco which was a 23-bed hospice in Malaga.

Vicki Payne at the Wells shop

Vicki and her husband Philip returned from Spain, and it wasn’t long before Vicki started looking for a new volunteering role back in the UK.

When we got back, I quickly became a member of WCN, the Wells Coronavirus Network, which grew to 562 volunteers. It’s still going now - we pick-up prescriptions, do dog walking and pretty much anything anyone asks of us. We have a wonderful bank of knowledge, and we can usually find someone who can help.

“I also started volunteering at the local foodbank and The Lawrence Centre, but I really did want to be busy, so I choose St Margaret’s Hospice as I was keen to use some of the experience I had gained in Spain as well as the shop was busy. Just what I wanted!

“I started at the Wells St Margaret’s Charity Shop in early 2020 but then the UK went into lockdown, so I left for a bit and came back. I really enjoy volunteering here, it’s the staff that make this place what it is but also you put in what you get out. What was really lovely was that although in another country both the Spanish and St Margaret’s shops are really quite similar.

“When I first started, I felt confident doing the till, but I knew I also wanted to do more so over time I’ve helped to sort out the books and the CDs and learnt about the importance of Gift Aid. I volunteer here because of what I get out of it. I put a lot into this, and I get a lot out and I know that the money will go where it’s needed. All the systems in place at St Margaret’s are brilliant and I really enjoy my time here.

“I get up every morning and seize the day and my husband is the same. We’re very positive people. I like speaking to the staff and the other volunteers, chatting to our regular customers and most of all, I like being busy so by the time I’ve finished at 1pm I think, where has the time gone?

“Volunteering is what you make it. The staff are lovely and so are the other volunteers. If you are looking to volunteer and have some time to spare, pop into your local shop, they’ll find something to fit with what your interests and most importantly something you’ll enjoy!”

We would like to thank Vicki for sharing her story with us.


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