Jamie Hewitt, ex-Chesterfield FC player gives us an insight into what it’s like in his new role driving the Ashgate Hospicecare vans.
“I’m born and bred in Chesterfield and live just around the corner from the Hospice. I used to play football for Chesterfield FC and would often come in to visit the patients at the Hospice around Christmas time, which was really humbling. Even so, I didn’t know all the work that was involved in keeping the Hospice going. It wasn’t until I came up to Hasland when I applied for the role of driver that I realised just how many shops and coffee shops Ashgate had, and what a large area of North Derbyshire the Hospice serves.
After my time at the football club came to an end, I saw the job come up at Ashgate. I really wanted a driving job at the time that wasn’t long distance, so I could be at home every night and spend time with my family. So, this job was perfect for me. I came in for my interview and was fortunate enough to be offered the job. I work three days a week and fill in on extra days when needed. I feel like I’ve got a good work-life balance now.
I drive the Hospice vans, delivering and picking up large donations and also new goods from the Ashgate Furniture Company. All the drivers get in about 8.30am and we decide who is going to do each job. We’ve usually got three vans on the road at any one time. It can be a difficult day if you get a top floor flat with a sofa that needs moving, and other days it can be a bit easier. You never know!
The team that I work with is really great. We have a good laugh together and we all work hard. If anybody’s struggling to finish all their jobs, we’ll ring and help each other out.
In this job, you’re introduced to all walks of life, but we usually end up having a nice chat with most people we see. We have quite a few regular customers who know a lot about the Hospice, as well as those who know very little. In our role as drivers, we try to promote the Hospice where we can. We tell people about the Ashgate Furniture Company and get the word out about what else we do and who we look after. We always tell our customers to come into the shop and take a look if they haven’t been already. I think many people are surprised at the size of the store at Hasland. Most are surprised that it doesn’t look like a charity shop, because it has the coffee shop and the new furniture store as well as the donated items. You can tell that people really enjoy looking around and they always tell us how much they like it.
Obviously, we often meet people whose close family member has just died, and you have to be very sensitive about that. It’s so nice when I’m out in the Hospice van to hear about people’s experiences of Ashgate. It’s a nice reminder that what we’re doing here is worthwhile and that all the donations we collect or drop off are helping towards continuing to care for patients. It’s a good feeling when you’ve brought some furniture in and it then sells for a good price. You feel like you’ve really done your bit for the Hospice.
You never know when you or your family might need the Hospice or the support that Ashgate can offer for bereavement. When I lost my parents, I found that I felt much better when I talked about it with someone. Being from Chesterfield, I know that the Hospice holds a special place in our hearts and it’s really important that we do what we can to keep it going.”