I have primary progressive MS, which is steady and gradually gets worse. But that’s life. You just have to get on with it and make the most of it. I used to race cars, but can’t even drive now. I use a mobility scooter. I have good days and bad days, so can’t work. Guaranteeing I’ll be somewhere for 9am every morning is very difficult.
My daughter-in-law showed me the advert as she knew I was looking for something to do. I couldn’t sit around doing nothing. Finding out about volunteering at Chesham House was the best thing I did. I really love it.
I have volunteered for the last three and a half years and do Tuesday mornings in the tearoom and make coffee. I’m officially a barista. I do that as I’m able to stand in one place. My MS limits me from waitressing or taking orders. I work alongside a lovely lady called Shirley. I only got to know her when I started and we’ve become really good friends.
I love chatting, I love talking to people, asking about their lives. If I can help anyone I will. It’s a lot of fun and going down to the tearoom is so much better than staying at home. I love seeing who’s going to come through the door. We have our regulars and it’s just like a big family. We’re all friends and some of us socialise together. You look out for each other. I’ve made lots of other friends who all do different shifts. We meet up at social get-togethers.
It gives you a purpose to get up and get organised. I look forward to it. It’s become a way of life. My family think volunteering is really good for me. They can see how much I enjoy it and that benefits them because I’m happy and busy. I’m not complaining about being ill and disabled. I also sleep better at night because I’ve been busy and feel fulfilled. Sometimes I bring home cake, so what could be better?
It makes a big difference to somebody’s life – the fact they come down and you have the time to sit and talk to them, instead of them sitting down on their own and having a cup of coffee and leaving on their own. They really look forward to coming.