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Jackie Alton

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Jackie Alton

Jackie Alton

The volunteers were there whenever I needed them

Jackie Alton was going through one of the worst periods of her life as she watched her father battle cancer that had spread to his brain.

She found solace through volunteering at her local Headway charity shop and was supported by her fellow volunteers when she needed it most.

Her father Michael Alton began volunteering at Headway's Eastwood charity shop when he was diagnosed with bowel cancer and could no longer work as a taxi driver.

Jackie joined her father at the shop and took comfort in volunteering alongside him.

She said: "It was good because I could keep an eye on him and make sure he wasn't doing anything he shouldn't do.

"It was nice to see him keeping busy even though he couldn't work anymore."

Over time Michael's cancer spread to his liver, his lungs and eventually his brain. He became unable to walk and had to stop volunteering as he became bed bound.

Jackie couldn't help but worry about her dad, even when she was volunteering.

"It was difficult, but I could go to work and take my mind off it," she said.

"I would worry every time an ambulance went past the shop, which happens every day.

"The first time it happened I rang my dad and he said 'If you ring me every time an ambulance goes past I'll be going to the hospital for some peace and quiet!'"

Michael passed away on Father's Day in 2016, after his family had read out all their cards to him in the morning.

Jackie took solace in the support of her fellow volunteers and says her dad would be proud to have seen her carry on.

"They were just amazing. They would always ask how I was first thing when I came in and I would update them. 

"The day after my dad passed away I went to the shop because I knew the banking needed doing.

"My assistant manager bought me a hot chocolate and paid for me to get the bus home, even though I could have walked.

"They were there for me whenever I needed them."

It's a really friendly environment, everyone is so lovely.

Volunteering has been such a positive experience for Jackie she is encouraging other people to give it a go.

She said: "Come in and give it a go, see what you think. Everyone is lovely and no two days are the same.

"Everyone is different so you don't have to do anything you don't want to do. You might make some friends and find you really like it."

Click the link below to find your nearest Headway group, branch or charity shop.


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Headway - the brain injury association is registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales (Charity no. 1025852) and the Office of the Scottish Regulator (Charity no. SC 039992). Headway is a company limited by guarantee, registered in England no. 2346893.

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