Posted: 03 June 2020

Celebrating Volunteers Week with one of our longest serving volunteers

This Volunteers Week, we're celebrating with Phil, our 92 year old shop volunteer. Phil has been helping us for over 60 years and continues to put in two mornings a week at the Whitehaven store. He still cycles (although 'the hills are getting steeper') and never misses an afternoon in front of Countdown. 

We couldn't do the important work we do without people like Phil so we want to say a huge thank you to all our volunteers and supporters who give up their time and resources to allow us to be there for young people who need it most. 


From selling Christmas cards to working the till

Having learnt about a 92- year-old volunteer who still cycles around town, we went to meet Phil Holland at his home in Bigrigg in Whitehaven. Phil has been volunteering for us for over 60 years and remembers the opening of his local The Children's Society shop. 

With a friendly grin, Phil waves us into his house. The open fire is glowing and photos of all the generations of his family neatly cover his walls. Later we learn he has ten grandchildren and four great grandchildren. 

'I enjoy working for The Children's Society, I have a great time'

Phil started off selling Christmas cards for us and continued to do so as he and has wife settled down in different towns across the country. He also recalls doing the street collection. He'd spend a fortnight visiting around 300 houses and they'd often collect around £1000. 'You'd be surprised how many dogs and children destroyed the envolop in one day', he chuckles.

Then, 30 years ago, when he retired, he and his wife started working at one of our shops. He used to volunteer with his wife, Kath, one day a week but when she sadly passed three years ago, he decided to put in another day a week. He tells us with a proud smirk how he used to sell his homegrown tomato plants in the shop.

The shop as a community meeting place

Phil mainly works by the till where he can chat to the customers and wave to people passing by. He just enjoys it, he enjoys the company and anyone who's in town knows where to find him. It's a meeting centre. 'Customers come in just to have a chat. It's great'.

old man reading

He tells us how he's still friends with a lady who used to work in the shop. After his shift, he'll pay her a visit for an 'important' cup of tea and an hour of Countdown.

The best part of the job for Phil is 'meeting people, advising people on what's in the shop, where things are and meeting the staff...lovely'.

'I'm always delighted when some of our staff who are unemployed get employment as a result of working with The Children's Society. You see, the shop in Whitehaven, we have training and they get NVQs so this gives them the opportunity to get a job when they were having difficulties getting a job. which I find is great. I love that, that they can get out and find jobs elsewhere, that's the best part.'

'Just come along, be open minded...just enjoy it'



By Kaja Zuvac-Graves

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