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Rosie's story: keeping the Red Cross tills ringing

Rosie Kilburn, young shop volunteerEveryone knows Rosie Kilburn (18) at her local Red Cross shop in Ledbury. The young student, who has a rare form of liver cancer, volunteers every Saturday and was recently voted Young Volunteer of the Year by the Association of Charity Shops. If that wasn’t enough, Rosie has even used her retail experience to help start her own business.

“I started volunteering for the Red Cross two years ago. My main reason, at that point, was to have something good on my CV! However, that soon changed after I got started and because I enjoyed it and liked the people I was working with, I decided to carry on.

“I’ve made some really good friends at the shop, like my friend Chloe. And it’s always interesting to see what stock comes in, from clothes to DVDs and books. Sometimes we get original, vintage clothes that I quite like but think: I couldn’t wear that. Then a few months later it comes into fashion, and I wish I’d bought it!

“There are lots of great books as well. Maggie, my manager, collected books for me to read when I was in hospital. She knows which authors I like so she would keep them aside for me to buy.”

‘Rather be at the shop’

“Even throughout my cancer treatments, I would still do my volunteering shift. If I hadn’t continued to do my shift on a Saturday – well, I don’t know what else I’d have done. I probably would have sat at home thinking about chemotherapy or dwelling on things, so I’d rather I was at the shop.

“Some of the people I work with are from an older generation. They’ve got such an outgoing, sunny disposition and it’s good to be around them. We also get regular customers who ask about me, which is nice.”

Lots of opportunities

Rosie Kilburn, shop volunteer and friend“From my time volunteering, I’ve learnt a lot about customers’ shopping habits and how shops work, so that helped me start my business, The Knock On Effect, which raises money for cancer charities and promotes a more positive discussion of cancer.

“A lot of people think volunteering is going to be boring, but it’s not. You can do pretty much anything. With some services, you even get to volunteer at big events and festivals. Even if you’ve only got a small amount of time, you can do something to help.”

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