Earlier in the year we brought you a story about the great Ann Dermody who has volunteered in our charity shops for over 22 years. It served to show how Ann, alongside an army of over 120 volunteers in our six shops, helps to keep things ticking over to raise those all-important funds for the compassionate care and specialist support services of Wirral Hospice St John’s.
Now we’ve gone to the other end of the scale and spoken with Niamh McEvoy, just 21 years of age, who talks about how much she enjoys volunteering at our Moreton shop and the special reasons for doing so.
When you meet Niamh you’ll be struck by how gently she speaks. She smiles the whole time and you feel like you’d be well served if you came to ask a question about the merchandise at Moreton, or when you were ready to buy an item.
Our Moreton shop is one of the biggest in our portfolio (we also have shops in Heswall. West Kirby, Liscard, New Brighton and Claughton) so there are plenty of pre-loved items to stir people’s interest. From full 3-piece suites, dining room sets, sideboards and furniture, through men’s, women’s, junior and baby clothing, bric-a-brac, books, toys and much more.
Sorting and displaying stock is a job in itself which Niamh helps with. She also meets customers and operates the till. She’s learning plenty of transferrable skills for her future.
Niamh tells me about her connection to Wirral Hospice St John’s. Her stepdad, John, who, alongside Niamh’s mum, Lyn, brought Niamh up from very young, attended our Wellbeing Centre in 2016 after his COPD had become particularly troublesome.
Like quite a few other patients, John was a little apprehensive at first on being referred to the hospice, but soon, given strategies for controlling his breathing and getting involved in other therapies and activities looked forward to his visits one day a week.
Niamh remembers how John would help another patient, a lady who was also losing her sight, by reading to her. The sense of community, the many laughs and still knowing he was making a significant contribution was important to him. John died in 2017 and Niamh knew straightaway that she wanted to give something back to the hospice.
Being naturally shy, Niamh would have found it a bit difficult at that time to make the first move to volunteering (not nowadays however, volunteering has really boosted her confidence) so it was a happy coincidence that John’s nephew, Stephen (pictured here with Niamh), also volunteers at our Moreton shop and helped Niamh to settle in.
(Stephen’s own Dad, Ronnie, and his brother Robert had also been helped through life-limiting illnesses by Wirral Hospice St John’s and, on retirement four years ago from Cadbury’s at Moreton – the old Burton’s Biscuits – he also decided he wanted to volunteer to give back to the hospice).
In school, Niamh studied at The Kingsway Academy and gained A Levels in Chemistry, Biology, Physics which led her, naturally, to doing a foundation degree in, Drama! What? Well, she wanted to do something different to improve her confidence.
Having secured her foundation degree she is in her second year of a gateway course at the school of Biomedical Science at Liverpool John Moores University. This may lead to forensics or maybe even a future in healthcare.
She’s close to her Mum, Lyn, who works for Wirral Borough Council taking children, with autism and other social communications, to school. The ‘caring’ runs deep in Niamh’s family!
At our Moreton shop she’s a popular volunteer. She loves her volunteering colleagues Fran, Barbara and, of course, Stephen. She also mentions Ricky, the shop manager (pictured here holding a hospice Summer Memories daisy), as someone she’s always learning from,
“He’s very focused, gets the job done and has been really nice and helpful to me. He leads by example and when I tell him what I’d like to do he’s always encouraging with a heartfelt, ‘Go For It, Niamh!’”
Niamh and boyfriend Jordan (with Niamh here), often seen with her at other hospice events, have been going out together for a year now. They enjoy lots of things but especially nice walks and have recently started running together.
I think I can hear Ricky in the background, “Go for it, Niamh!”
Yes please Niamh, go for it! The hospice says a sincere Thank You for all that you do.
Author: Billy Howard