Just don’t touch the jewels!

She is always immaculately dressed when she comes to volunteer at the shop. Her glamorous presence is impossible to miss – with her ready belly laugh and distinctly wicked sense of humour! 

Jewels are Terrie’s sole domain at Helen and Douglas shop in Rosehill. She has (fiercely defended) dedicated shelves in the glass cabinet next to the till. As well as a growing number of jewellery displays around the shop… Jewellery donations are many at the shop, and more so than ever since lockdown has lifted.

She has a strict system, displays are regularly refreshed, and unsold jewels are packed up into shoe boxes and labelled for other shops in the group. Often with something along the lines of ‘For another shop. NOT Rosehill!’

Terrie is always finding innovative and interesting ways to display her jewels – and her jewellery displays are always beautiful. She bemoans the customers and staff alike when her jewels are misplaced or put back carelessly…  Or, heaven forfend, an alien object placed onto ‘her’ jewellery shelf in the cabinet!

She frequently points out that her jewellery displays are NOT TO BE TOUCHED!

We are pretty sure she’s joking… but we are never totally sure! She can be quite scary! Luckily the customers are brave and manage to buy sufficiently large quantities of jewels for it to be necessary for Terrie to pop in most days to top them up!

Since lockdown Terrie and I have been at the shop on Sundays – the shop is shut so it is an ideal time to get things done while there are no customers around … so one Sunday I asked Terrie to tell me about her jewels…

How did you come to be a volunteer?

“For many years I was a prison officer, and when  I retired I thought there’s no way I am going to sit at home knitting so I went to Helen and Douglas at Headington and started off there. And then Rosehill opened and as I lived just down the road, I transferred to Rosehill. 

I was here the day that Rosehill opened, which was about 9 or 10 years ago!

The shop just gets better and better. We have lovely staff to work with. It’s much busier and lots of lovely stuff coming through the door too.”

Why do you keep doing it?

“I love the company and I love the customers – we have so many regulars who come in who are as happy to see me as I am to see them. And we have so many jewellery donations that its a pleasure to sort it out for the shop and make it all look nice.”

“If I am going to do a job I like to do it properly and make it look nice.”

“I used to have just one cabinet of jewels but now I have lots more. I will do some more tomorrow… I think up these ideas and then I wonder why I did that?! It’s been crazy since lockdown. I keep trying to find new places to put new jewels in the shop.”

I get very upset with the customers because they keep buying the jewels!

“This shop is really like a community centre and the staff are fantastic and its run by Anneke who is a fantastic manager. This is why I come here. You don’t know who you are going to meet – although you do get regulars come through the door – you don’t know what donations are going to come in… sometimes you can be amazed (… and sometimes not so much!)”

What Anneke says about Terrie:

Anneke, Manager Helen and Douglas, Rosehill

Have there been any special ‘finds’?

“A few years ago these pieces of silver came in and they were very dirty and everyone ummed and ahhed about them and I said “that is a something” and we cleaned them up and I took it on to David Dickensons “Real Deal” show and I got £300 for them!

The show was filmed in Aylesbury and I could just turn up – when I got there and they saw what I had they grabbed me straight away and all the judges came over to look at them – it was amazing.”

I don’t know how people stay at home all day!

“Its very rewarding doing what I do … the only thing is that you can’t go out without someone knowing you!

I also volunteer at the JR and the Churchill hospitals too. I am volunteering 7 days a week. I choose my hours. I normally like to come in here first to check that jewellery is straight and tidy before I go off to my other jobs. 

I work on the reception desk at the hospitals giving directions, or if someone comes in on their own and they’re nervous I walk with them and take them where they need to go. Some people are frightened to go in the lift so I go with them. So many patients have to come back a lot and they like to see a familiar face and hopefully I can remember them and ask them how they are. They can be quite distressed so I try to give them a happy smiling face!”

“I am coming up for 82 –
if I can do it so can you!!”

Advice from Terrie To prospective volunteers

“I had my 80th birthday party last year we had a great time. Then I had a huge open heart operation which nearly sent me to another planet! But I am still here… 

I was coming round from my open heart surgery operation when lock down started which was a God send for me. Because I don’t rest. The shop was closed so I knew I couldn’t go there so it was easy to sit and do nothing. I am back now.

If only people realised – if you sit at home all day you don’t get to meet people. I keep telling people you can do just one hour, or two hours.. and choose what day you want to do. You aren’t tied. 

I do have a home … and I do go there sometimes!”

If you enjoyed this story, you may like to read this one.

To find out more about volunteering at Helen and Douglas click here

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  1. Fiona Larcombe says:

    Great pen portrait. I am a huge fan of second hand jewellery, so those pictures make me wish I lived close enough to the shop to become a regular customer. Do you think Terri would be game for an online jewellery shop? I’d definitely be a regular visitor then.

  2. Terrie’s displays look terrific and what a marvellous model she is for the jewels! Please tell her I am inspired by her story: if I was going to hospital it would be a huge comfort to find her there offering a helping hand.

    1. Love Terrie, she’s a superstar

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