Barry and Marion Salmon are 76 and 72 and about to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary! They credit their youthful outlook and active lifestyle in part to their volunteering roles with Rennie Grove, which they’ve both held for around six years.
Barry is a PAT tester, checking electrical devices donated to the charity for sale in its shops or ebay store.
Barry explains: “I responded to an email from Rennie Grove asking for volunteers. I was an apprentice electrician many years ago, and although I went on to work in industry as a product manager, I fancied the idea of revisiting my roots and working with electrical equipment. In fact, you don’t need a background in electrical goods because the charity arranges full training for you.”
Barry lives in Tring and is based at the charity’s new Bainbridge House premises in Berkhamsted. Other PAT testers, some of whom he has trained, perform similar checks in Rennie Grove’s shops. “It’s a better use of time and resources to spread the testing out geographically,” he explains, “because items are being donated to each of our 24 shops on an almost daily basis.”
Barry and his colleagues find they can barely get through all the donations, so the charity is making the most of the extra space at Bainbridge House and recruiting for more people willing to be trained as crucial PAT testers.
“It’s an individual role, which I like!” says Barry, “and the premises are great. There is more space, a better layout and good facilities. Although we live in Tring, the move to Berkhamsted is an improvement for everyone!”
Marion volunteers as an ebay lister, researching and uploading items to the charity’s lucrative ebay store. She’s also based at Bainbridge House and agrees with Barry: “It’s a lovely new office with a friendly atmosphere. Sometimes we’ll have the radio on and have a sing-along while we work!”
Marion’s motivation and the benefits she reaps from volunteering differ slightly from Barry’s. “I was keen to meet people and have that regular contact,” she explains. “When you get older it’s easy for your life to revolve around the home and I enjoy being in that office environment two mornings a week.
“Our near neighbour had nurses from the charity coming into the house to provide care. I’d wanted to do some voluntary work and I could see that Rennie Grove was a very worthwhile cause.
“I hadn’t realised that ebay was an option. As long as you’re fairly confident using a computer you can easily pick it up, you don’t need to have used ebay before. I never had. But now I love the detective work, finding out who made a particular piece, checking whether it’s genuine.
“Jewellery is my favourite; I love researching the hallmarks. I also enjoy listing pottery, tracking down the obscure makers; some of it is really beautiful. In one morning I could be listing anything from a Fitbit to a wool winder!
“And it’s such a buzz when you find a gem. I once found a gold sovereign in a bag of coins which sold for £250. It took a while to verify its authenticity, but that made the outcome all the more rewarding!”