After 11 years managing our Cleobury Mortimer shop, Gayna Woodland retired in August 2021. Not only has the shop contributed huge amounts of income to Severn Hospice’s care, Gayna is part of another volunteer group – the Severn Hospice Cleobury Crafters – helping raise more than £18,000 over the years.
“I want to say a great big thank you to Severn Hospice for giving me the opportunity to do what I have for the last 11 years. There are few jobs where you wake up every morning and want to go to work. I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.
“I’m really looking forward to retiring because it’s time for me to go – I don’t feel as strong as before COVID and I am 65. My husband Tony, and the apple of my eye, Ted, my Romanian street dog, are planning lots of day trips out at Severn Valley, Cosford and around the National Trusts now everything has opened up. But I’m always going to stay in touch. I’m still going to be doing the Severn Hospice Crafters and the advent lunches so I will still be around.
“Working for Severn Hospice was the best decision I ever made. I’d never worked in retail before, but I was quite stressed in my old job and wanted a change, then I saw a little advert in the shop window and I thought, ‘That’s what I want to do’. I’ve truly loved every minute and everything I’ve done here. From working with the volunteers, to the customers and donors, or volunteering with the crafters – everything I’ve done with the hospice has included fun. There is a lot of laughter, and that has been central to our work. We’re always thinking about what we can get up to next.
“Before working here, I knew of the hospice movement and knew it was crucial to the community and to families. We’ve known people who have been supported by the hospice, either being cared for at home or on the wards and you never hear anything but the highest praise for the care they receive. The wilder retail department in the hospice is brilliant and the clinical staff are too. Our volunteers love it when hospice staff come to the shop and they – and the customers – particularly loved it when the Chief Executive spent a day on our till.
“I think the new community shop manager will absolutely love the job. There is a lot of support for Severn Hospice in Cleobury Mortimer. Many people who come into the shop as volunteers or donors have had help from us and know the value of our care, and feedback is so positive. The warmth and support from the hospice is amazing. It’s such a worthwhile cause.The shop is a real community shop; we are very much involved. We help with the Shoebox Appeal collecting clothes for vulnerable children and their families, and we do weekly advent lunches which bring so many together for raffles and eating apple pie and cream which is really nice and raises more vital funds for the hospice.
“Every single day is different – the stage stays the same, but the actors change twice a day. Jane, our assistant manager is brilliant, and the 28 volunteers are such a friendly bunch, with brilliant personalities and the love they have for the shop is immense. They are so committed and willing to work and learn. It really is different working here; people always turn up, they are rarely late, rarely sick and they enjoy being here and making a difference to the community. Quite a few of the volunteers started when I did or before and at the last Long Service Awards 20 had awards for either five or 10 years.
“I don’t count my volunteering hours as a Severn Hospice Cleobury Crafter because I just love it. It adds another layer of fun. Material and garments are donated to the shop and if we couldn’t sell them we’d upcycle them and go out and about to different events selling what we’ve made. We’ve had commissions from Hobson’s brewery where we made costumes for the community fair, and we’ve made bunting, including when the whole shop was involved in cutting and sewing bunting a third of a mile long for the 2012 Olympics which went from the top of the town to the bottom. Another time we made a cover for a two-seater light aircraft and that really was great – one of the biggest challenges as a sewer. It was just two of us – me and the leader of the group, Catherine. We didn’t know what to make it from and then a few days later two bales of fireproof fabric, in the right colour, were donated.
“I would encourage people to volunteer. Have a look at what the hospice does and what it achieves. Give it a go! You don’t know what you’re missing. Not only are you helping a really good cause, you’re also meeting people and learning new skills, you can have as many teas and coffees and biscuits as you like, and you’ll be part of a community and that’s what it’s all about. It’s not often a volunteer vacancy comes up here in Cleobury Mortimer but we’ll always fit someone in.”
Head of retail, Ross Henderson, said: “We all wish Gayna the very best for her retirement. Gayna has been an absolute pillar of the Cleobury Mortimer community and a shining example of what a Community Shop can mean to local residents, and she will be missed by the team and her colleagues.”