Jan Brown, 63, from Leigh has been volunteering at the Re:loved by Havens Hospices store in Leigh Road, since 2018.

Her volunteering journey started at the shop after the death of her husband Ray who lived with prostate cancer for five years.

Ray underwent many treatments, including radiotherapy, chemotherapy, operations and transfusions which caused many side effects. This led Jan to care for him full-time at home for over four years.

In March 2018, Ray was referred to Fair Havens in Chalkwell for care at the end of his life.

Jan said: “When we got the call to say there was a bed at Fair Havens, it was a huge relief for us as we knew Ray didn’t have long left and he needed specialist care. As soon as we stepped into the hospice, the nurses were absolute angels to Ray, myself and my daughter. I can’t praise all of them enough for what they did for us during those last days.

“They set up a bed for my daughter and I so we could be by his side. They did everything they could to make him comfortable. We were at the hospice for two days, and he passed peacefully with us by his side.

“I will never forget the care, compassion and kindness the nurses showed us. One of the nurses said to me: ‘You can stop being his carer now. You can be his wife again’. Havens Hospices allowed me and my daughter to spend precious time with him in those last moments.”

Jan wanted to give back to the hospice and repay the charity for everything it had done for her and her family in the most difficult time of their lives. This led her to enquire about volunteering at her local Havens Hospices charity shop.

She said, “I wanted to become a volunteer at the time because I wanted to help raise funds for the new hospice to ensure there were more beds available for terminally ill patients suffering from cancer like my dear Ray.

“Volunteering makes me feel fulfilled, and I really enjoy the social side. I live on my own so coming into the shop, speaking with and helping so many different people is really rewarding for me. The managers and volunteers at the shop are brilliant, and we have a great relationship.”

“One of the best things about volunteering in the shop is when a customer praises the shop and compliments how wonderful it looks. It’s not your typical charity shop and we work hard to keep it looking spacious, tidy and appealing for our customers. After a hard day’s work, getting compliments like this is rewarding – it gives great job satisfaction.”

“I would recommend volunteering at Havens Hospices to anyone. There is something for everyone and it gives you the opportunity to learn new skills and give back to a local cause, which really makes a huge difference to families like mine.”

For more information about volunteering in Havens Hospices shops across Essex, visit www.havenhospices.org.uk/volunteering.

For more information visit www.havenshospices.org.uk/donate.