HOSPICE stalwart Jean Lewis is inviting people to give volunteering a try at a town centre charity shop.

Jean, 83, has been a volunteer at the St Luke’s Hospice shops in Northwich for a quarter of a century, and has no plans to give it up.

Jean was a founding member of the hospice’s Northwich support group 31 years ago, and was the group’s chairman for five years before it disbanded.

Volunteers are vital to the success of the shops run by the hospice, which is inviting more people to join the volunteering team.

“The volunteers are the backbone of everything we do, in particular in the shops, and we are always seeking help from the community with volunteering and fundraising,” said hospice retail operations manager Steven Holmes.

Jean, from Castle, works eight hours a week in the Witton Street shop, which followed her volunteering role at the previous shop in Castle Hill.

She has made many friends through volunteering, which played an important role in her life following the death 14 years ago of her husband Don, who was secretary of the Northwich support group.

“Volunteering at the shop has made a great difference to my life, and helped me to keep going after my husband died,” said Jean.

“I enjoy the company of the people I work with, and we are like a family here. I have made a lot of friends over the years, and anyone who would like to join us would be made most welcome.

“The shop manager, Susie, is absolutely great to work for, and we have lots of giggles along the way.”

Jean was not phased by the introduction of a computerised till, having her own laptop at home, and aims to continue her volunteering as long as she is able to.

“Jean is one of the kindest, most honest people I have ever had the pleasure to meet, work with and able to call my friend,” said shop manager Susie Derbyshire.

“She was one of the founder members of the support group, who got together to raise money to buy a property to open a hospice.

“She and her husband and others spent many hours at car boot sales and shaking buckets in town in the pouring rain to raise money.”

The hospice has shops in Northwich, Winsford, Middlewich, Hartford, Nantwich, Sandbach and Alsager, and for more information about volunteering email volunteer@stlukes-hospice.co.uk.