Overseas charity work for Shrewsbury furniture store staff

Staff at Shropshire’s largest independent furniture retailer are proving they have what it takes when it comes to helping others in need across the world.

For one employee at Alan Ward in Shrewsbury will be making a trip of a lifetime to care for animals at a sanctuary in Africa while another has been helping to ensure poor communities have access to vital medical supplies.

Gemma Picken, of Telford, has also headed off to South Africa after deciding to volunteer at the African Dawn Bird and Wildlife Sanctuary.

The 23-year-old, of The Rock, who travelled thousands of miles to Africa, will be spending six weeks working at the centre on the Eastern Cape.

She said: “I will be doing everything from cleaning out cages to feeding the animals and caring for them if they are sick. There are also opportunities to become a surrogate mum.”

Miss Picken said she had decided the time was right for her to do some volunteering work.

She said: “I carried out some research on the internet about volunteering and came across this sanctuary.

“I like animals and in the future I would love to do something with wildlife. I thought this was something really worthwhile and I am really proud that I am able to help in this way.”

The former Orleton Park School student, who works in the company’s distribution centre office at Battlefield Enterprise Park, Shrewsbury, said: “I am also really grateful to Alan Ward for giving me a two-month sabbatical.

“I am fulfilling a dream and I am hoping it will give me some good experience for what I want to do later in life. I can’t wait to get out there and get started.”

And Tim Willocks has been helping to ensure out-of-date medical supplies are put to good use to help people in Third World countries.

He decided to collect the donations on behalf of the group which also has branches in Chester, Winsford and Newcastle-under-Lyme after an appeal was spotted in a bulletin from Jackie Horsewood, managing director of Wenlock Health and Safety Ltd.

Last year supplies collected by Alan Ward were taken to Ethiopia by Jackie and her husband, Graham, to help to stock a new clinic.

This year she has just returned from Haiti, which is situated in the Caribbean, after taking supplies, including hundreds given by Alan Ward.

Mr Willocks, delivery team leader at Alan Ward’s distribution centre said: “We live in such a throwaway society nowadays. Lots of medical supplies are thrown away in the UK each year because they are out-of-date.

“However, in places such as Ethiopia and Haiti they are still able to be used in areas that are forgotten or in remote poor areas.

“At Alan Ward I am in charge of the first aid boxes and decided to see what we could do to help.

“I am delighted that through our efforts people in poorer communities across the world have been able to have access to medical supplies they so desperately need.”

Jackie Horsewood said they had a “huge response” and took out two large suitcases full of donated medical supplies to a small hospital in Cap Haitian in the North of Haiti.

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