Scope volunteer Ethel Davey is due to celebrate her 100th birthday on 30 July. She has been volunteering at the Scope shop in St Albans for over twenty years, and has no intention of stopping yet.
I like to meet people and volunteering with Scope is a great way to do that. I’ve been at the St Albans shop since it opened nearly 21 years ago. I was in town doing my shopping and a lady asked me if I’d like to come and volunteer. I said I’d give it a go and I’ve been coming back ever since.
Everyone in town knows Ethel
I try to keep busy and I like helping people. As well as volunteering, I go to clubs where they have speakers and lunches. I used to help run the Scout jumble sales. I’ve been in St Albans a long time, so I know a lot of people. I go to the market and everyone knows me. That’s what I like, a friendly atmosphere.
I’m from Watford originally, I only came to St Albans in 1939. I left school at 14, you didn’t have to pass any exams in those days. I started work in an office, then went on to work in an envelope factory. I was there for six years until I got married. I used to cycle six miles to work and back every day. I like exercise and I think that’s one of the things that keeps me going today.
The war broke out the day after we got married. Everyone used to say that’s what caused it! While my husband was serving overseas in the army, I worked on the milk round. I really enjoyed it as I got to know everyone in the area.
Charity shops have changed
I haven’t stopped since then, and still do a couple of shifts a week at the Scope shop. Nowadays I mainly do the till and help with tidying up on the shop floor. Fortunately, I’m alright on the arithmetic, and can keep an eye out for thieves.
I’ve seen a lot of strange donations come in over the years. You’d be surprised what you see in some of the bags! We do get a lot of designer stuff donated these days. We get customers who come in just to pick up designer bargains. We have a lot of younger customers now too – charity shops don’t have the same image they used to have. We often get young people volunteering with us as part of their Duke of Edinburgh award. Volunteering can help people get in to work, it’s a job getting a job these days.
Volunteering is a great way to meet people
I went paragliding in my seventies, and I’ve taken a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon. I’ve done most things I wanted to do, and have done a fair bit of travelling.
I’ve got a few plans for my birthday. I have a big family – three children, eight grandchildren and sixteen great grandchildren, so I’m having three parties. That’s one more than the queen!
Scope do an awful lot of good. Volunteering in my local Scope shop means that I get to meet a lot of different people, and that’s what I like. Local communities are a good thing, if anyone needs a bit of extra help, we help each other out, that’s what the world’s for.
If you’re feeling inspired by Ethel’s story, take a look at how to get involved as a Scope volunteer.
Read more about Ethel in her recent newspaper feature.