Volunteering: a love story
Published on 04 July 2018 10:00 AM
Back in May, in the build up to Volunteer’s Week in early June, we asked the managers of Age UK shops to tell us about the volunteers they work with and the difference they make.
Encouragingly, we were inundated with a wide variety of stories about wonderful window displays, superb sorting, and generous individuals going above and beyond the call of duty time and time again; and though many of these heart-warming stories were read out on The Wireless radio station, there was one in particular that stood out from the rest.
It was an email from Mandy, the manager of the shop in Newport on the Isle of Wight. She’d got in touch to tell us about her much-loved colleagues Sandra and Bob, who’d met while volunteering at the shop. This year, they’d taken their working relationship to a whole new level – by getting married!
Keen to know more, we dropped Mandy a line to regale us with this heart-warming tale.
Sandra meets Bob
Mandy has been with Age UK for almost four years. She started around the same time as Sandra – known as Sandy – who had decided to volunteer after the death of her husband. ‘When Sandy started she was very quiet and reserved, keeping herself to herself, which is understandable,’ explains Mandy. ‘But because we’re a right little family here, we always try to coax people out of their shell, especially in the [shop] sorting room – we always try and have fun.’
Chief among those jokers was Bob, who’d already been volunteering there for a year by that point. ‘Bob has a wicked sense of humour,’ says Mandy. ‘And he gradually started making Sandy laugh.’ He certainly had ample opportunity to do so, given the pair worked similar days, during which they discovered they had much in common, both being born Londoners, and lovers of music and car boot sales.
As Mandy puts it, Bob ‘wooed’ Sandy, eventually making his feelings known by plucking up the courage to ask her if she’d like to go to a gig in nearby Shanklin. This soon turned into regular breakfast meetings on a Sunday, and, according to Mandy, ‘the friendship blossomed into something else.’ Much to everyone’s joy, the relationship developed over time and eventually Sandra asked Bob if he’d like to move in with her. He said yes. ‘It gave them a new lease of life,’ says Mandy. ‘You could see the spring in both of their steps.’
But that was not all, of course. In September of last year, the loved up pair took a coach trip to Brighton, where in the local Sea Life Centre, Bob took the plunge – so to speak – and popped the big question. ‘She had no idea he was going to do it,’ says Mandy. ‘And no, he didn’t go down on one knee, because he said if he did then he’d never get back up.’
The big day
The happy couple made it official on 12 May of this year, at the New Holmwood Hotel in Cowes, with another of the shop’s volunteers, Marina, acting as maid of honour. ‘We went in the evening because we weren’t going to shut the shop on a Saturday,’ laughs Mandy. ‘There was a lot of dancing and we all absolutely loved it.’ The couple enjoyed a honeymoon in Jersey.
So how has Sandra and Bob’s marriage changed their dynamic as colleagues? ‘It hasn’t at all,’ says Mandy. ‘They’re old school and both really professional. They generally tend to work together, doing Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.’
A message from Sandra
Though Mandy is speaking on behalf of the happy couple, she tells us that Sandra, who is enjoying married life, wants to pass on her thanks to Age UK for their kindness, support and, of course, bringing her and Bob together. ‘No one should give up on life or love, because it can happen at any time,’ is the message she wants to impart.
Wise words indeed; we wish her and Bob much happiness together.