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Charity shop couples... the couple that volunteers together, stays together!

Could volunteering be the secret to a happy relationship? For three couples who volunteer at their local British Heart Foundation (BHF) shop, the answer could be yes.

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Alec and Philippa at the British Heart Foundation shop in Sutton Coldfield. Photo: British Heart Foundation

This Volunteers' Week, meet the three couples who have been together for a combined 130 years and volunteer together at their local British Heart Foundation (BHF) shop in Sutton Coldfield. The British Heart Foundation is encouraging the nation to book a taster volunteering session with their local shop. The three couples share the reasons they love volunteering and the roles they think you should try…

Philippa, 63, and Alec Williams, 62, met at a social club and have been married for 35 years. Alec loved Philippa’s "sense of humour and positivity" and Philippa admired Alec’s "caring nature and willingness to help those less fortunate than himself."

Phillipa said: "It’s the first time we’ve ever worked together. I wasn’t sure how it would go, but we’ve loved meeting the other volunteers in the shop, and we get together for things like birthdays and Christmas."

"When we were both working full time in different jobs, we didn’t have much overlap. Volunteering has given us a common purpose. We know the same people and we have another shared interest outside of our immediate family and hobbies."

Philippa and Alec were inspired to volunteer when Alec was diagnosed with arrhythmia and fitted with a pacemaker. Alec said: "When I was 37, I reversed off the drive on my way to work. The next thing I remember is that the car had gone into a lamppost. After going to hospital, I was diagnosed with arrhythmia and was fitted with a pacemaker. It really makes you realise the impact of technology and the research the BHF funds. Volunteering with the BHF is my way of giving back."

Having met 40 years ago at Aston University, Colin Ward, 60, and Helen Keetley, 59, have lived in Sutton Coldfield for the last 30 years. The couple have two children and now volunteer together in their local BHF shop helping to list items online.

Colin said: "Our different skills complement each other so we can add more value than if we were doing it individually. Helen also stops me from eating too many of the free biscuits and chocolates available to the volunteers!"

Helen says: "I joined the BHF to help Colin sort and identify donations. I can spot the difference between an A-line skirt and a shift dress, whereas Colin has a keen eye for valuable items. He helped identify a vintage Beatles album which sold for £2,350! We both bring slightly different knowledge and we tag-team our role."

Colin and Helen outside British Heart Foundation shop in Sutton Coldfield. Photo: British Heart Foundation

Married couple of 55 years, David, 77, and Maureen Wooff, 74, love the variety that volunteering brings each day. Maureen, who has been volunteering at the shop for the last 12 years, said. "The social atmosphere in the shop recreates the office environment I was used to before I retired. We love the shop team and David and I usually travel into the shop together. They’re such a lovely group of people, and we’ve become so close."

A retired transport manager, David joined the team when Maureen mentioned the need for a volunteer driver at the shop. "There’s always such a buzz and every day is different," David said. "You never know who you will meet."

Maureen and David outside British Heart Foundation shop in Sutton Coldfield. Photo: British Heart Foundation

Natalie Langsford, BHF shop manager, said: "We often joke about hosting our very own Mr and Mrs show, having so many couples in the shop. The energy and passion we get from each member of the team is second to none and we meet up for special occasions because we all get on so well. You could say that volunteering is the secret to a happy relationship! We’re so lucky to have a wonderful team of dedicated volunteers and for all the energy they bring to the role.

"New volunteer survey results from the BHF show that 7 out of 10 people say meeting people is the most important thing they get out of volunteering. If you are thinking about volunteering and want to know more, pop into the shop for a friendly no obligation chat. Whether you want to try out volunteering on your own, or bring your partner, friends or family along – we’ll welcome any new faces who have an hour or two to spare this summer."

Try something and volunteer with the British Heart Foundation. Drop in store or visit

By Natalie Connors - Contributor

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