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Volunteers clock up more than 60 years between them at Norfolk charity shop

Sue Ryder charity shop volunteers, left, Thelma Yates and Eugenia Funnell, who have each worked in the Sheringham shop for more than 30 years.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Sue Ryder charity shop volunteers, left, Thelma Yates and Eugenia Funnell, who have each worked in the Sheringham shop for more than 30 years. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

It's National Volunteers' Week and one national charity has two bright stars to highlight.

Sue Ryder charity shop in Sheringham.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYSue Ryder charity shop in Sheringham. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

To have one woman volunteering at a charity shop for more than 30 years is astounding, but to have two really is incredible.

Thelma Yates and Eugenia Funnell have been turning up for no pay at the Sue Ryder shop in High Street, Sheringham since the 1980s.

Mrs Yates, who will be 90 in September, said: “I have been volunteering here for 35 years. My husband and I retired here from Nottinghamshire. I used to run a nursery school in Bramcote. I lost my husband and I came here. I do two mornings a week here at present, maybe a little less, but I will do it as long as I can.

“I’m very familiar with the customers. It’s nice to work with people and feel that I’m doing something for a worthwhile cause. I feel like I’m helping people.”

The grandmother-of-two from Sheringham added: “I went to a tea party at Buckingham Palace recently in appreciation of the time I have spent volunteering. I saw The Queen from a distance.”

Mrs Funnell, 79, from Sheringham, has been working at the shop since it opened more than 30 years ago. “I lost my mother during that period and the shop was opening. I do one day a week now. I like the cause and I like the customers. You meet a lot of people. I have no plans to stop coming here, unless something goes wrong with me.”

Mrs Funnell, whose husband Robert owns the town’s Westcliffe Garage, also volunteers once a month at the Shell Museum in Thornage and volunteered at Sheringham Little Theatre for a while.

She added: “I met Sue Ryder two or three times when she came here.”

She too enjoyed a tea party at Buckingham Palace as reward for her volunteering work.

Philippa Crofts, a spokesman for the national healthcare charity, said: “The national campaign Volunteers Week takes places from June 1 to 7.

“We want to highlight two volunteers, Thelma Yates and Eugenia Funnell, who have now volunteered for an amazing 30 years each at our shop in Sheringham.”

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