A dedicated volunteer officially opened Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice’s latest shop in Northfield, coinciding with the charity’s milestone anniversary celebrations.

Nancy Byrne from Moseley has been volunteering at the Hospice for 40 years, ever since it opened its doors and cared for its first patient in March 1979.

The big-hearted volunteer will be a familiar face to many patients, family members and loved ones who have visited Birmingham St Mary’s over the years, as she is best known for welcoming people on reception.

Before the Hospice opened, Nancy was part of the original ‘Friends of St Mary’s Fundraising Group’ that helped raised the £358k needed to open the Hospice. She then decided to volunteer because she’s a “people’s person who enjoys helping others”.

Over the past four decades, Nancy has supported with general admin work, driven patients to-and-from the Day Hospice and volunteered on reception – roles that she has enjoyed doing because “it’s a privilege to help people at a time when they need it most”.

To recognise her outstanding commitment to the Hospice – and to celebrate the first Birmingham St Mary’s shop to open during its 40th anniversary year – Nancy was invited to officially cut the ribbon at the Northfield store.

Based at 734 Bristol Road South, the shop is the charity’s 17th across Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull and aims to raise vital funds so the Hospice can continue to care for local people living with life-limiting illness. 

Nancy said: “Birmingham St Mary’s has been a big part of my life over the last 40 years and so I feel really proud to come to Northfield today and officially open its latest shop. I remember when the Hospice opened its first-ever shop in Selly Park back in 1985, so it’s wonderful to see how far our shops have come since, with many more having been opened across our city and beyond.”

Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice was founded by former NHS matron Monica Pearce, whose mission was to “enable anyone with a life-limiting illness to live their life to the full” – a statement that the Hospice’s staff and volunteers still stand by today. When the Hospice first opened, it could care for just 25 people on any given day. Four decades later and the Hospice is supporting over 400 people every day, providing care in people’s homes, in the community, and at the Hospice itself.

The Hospice’s shops provide a vital source of income for the charity, ensuring it can continue to care for people at a time when they need it most, wherever and whenever they need it. In the last 12 months, the charity has launched four new shops, including its first in Sandwell. 

Tina Swani, chief executive at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, was also present at the Northfield opening. She said: “Thank you so much to Nancy for coming down today to officially launch our Northfield shop. Volunteering for 40 years is an outstanding commitment and we are so grateful for all her support over the years.

“I would also like to thank everyone who came to the opening today. Our shops provide a crucial source of income for the Hospice – in fact, generous shoppers help raise over £1.5 million of the £8 million needed every year to run our vital services. That money goes a long way in supporting people to live well with life-limiting illness.”

Birmingham St Mary’s new shop will be open Monday to Saturday, 9am to 5pm and Sundays, 10am to 4pm. To find your local shop, please take a read here