Sadie steps down after a quarter-century of volunteering

A volunteer who’s dedicated a quarter of a century to Barnsley Hospice has retired from her role with the charity.

Sadie Birkett, 86, has completed her last shift at the hospice shop on Eldon Street in Barnsley town centre.

The pensioner, who lives nearby, began volunteering at the shop during its opening week in 1993. She has spent almost 25 years sorting clothes and donations, checking stock, manning the till and attaching tags, but has decided it’s now time to put her feet up.

Sadie said: “I had to come to the decision to retire from volunteering at some point. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and I’m just sorry it’s coming to an end. But I’m 86 now and it couldn’t carry on forever. There comes a time when you realise you’re really old!”

Sadie retired from her office job at the age of 62 and began volunteering for Barnsley Hospice straight away, juggling her shop duties with administrative tasks within the hospice for the first eight years. She then went on to volunteer as a patient representative at Barnsley Hospital too, but it’s the shop work that has stood the test of time.

“After my husband James died two years ago the shop became even more important to me. I wanted the company. It was like a little oasis, in the middle of the week, where I could go and enjoy some conversation. It can be very lonely at times, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time there. It’s kept me going.

“I’ve made some really good friends and I will miss them very much. They have been so kind and really looked after me. It’s been a really happy place and I’ve got lots of nice memories to look back on.”

Sue Miller, income generation director at Barnsley Hospice, said: “Sadie has been a hugely important part of our volunteer team for such a long time and we’re all incredibly grateful for her efforts over the years. If anyone deserves to put her feet up now, it’s her!”

There are six Barnsley Hospice shops; at Wombwell, Mapplewell, Penistone, and three in the town centre. A donation centre at Dodworth acts as a drop-off point and warehouse, and also houses three retail outlets selling electricals, clothes, DVDs, CDs vinyl record and books.

The shops play a vital role in generating income for the charity, which has to raise over £2m a year, in addition to a £1.6m grant from the NHS.

An army of over 250 volunteers help the hospice provide specialist care for anyone in Barnsley with a life-limiting illness.