Retirement? What Retirement?!

Written by one of our volunteers:

Phil reckons he retired too early. Whilst it did give him more time to enjoy his golf, he found that he missed the contact he'd had with so many people during his career as a Post Office Manager.

Instead of simply settling into his early retirement, Phil decided to start getting up early to do volunteering stints at Vaccination Centres. While he was living in Hitchin, Phil had tried part-time work in security at Luton Airport, but that was before Covid 19.

The pandemic brought air travel to a halt. The closure of the airport meant the laying off and furloughing of hundreds of staff, many of whom, found themselves with a great deal of spare time on their hands. So when Phil heard about the need for support at vaccination centres, he decided to sign up to volunteer with Communities 1st. Phil saw it as a positive opportunity and went on to complete his e-learning modules. He was soon helping two or three times a week at different centres in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.

Phil was immediately impressed with the people he found himself working with, describing them as 'amazing and inspirational'. Some of his own roles included welcoming and directing clients, cleaning chairs and sitting to chat with the recently-vaccinated. He is filled with admiration for the variety of NHS workers, retired school teachers, Fire Service members and even an ex-High Sheriff, who all offer their support and encouragement to so many vulnerable people.

Despite the cold early months of icy rain and winds, just seeing elderly people smiling with gratitude as they turned up for their vaccinations was a reward in itself. The team work and happy atmosphere amongst his colleagues distracted from his own health issues, enabling him to start talking to new and interesting people again.

Undeterred by his wife joking that he's 'crazy', Phil has found that the best aspect of volunteering is meeting others and feeling like he’s 'making a difference'. He looks forward to keeping up his volunteering as long as possible, at least until the airport needs him back.

Written by Don Ramsay (Volunteer)