A woman whose life was transformed by a national charity when she was a baby is now supporting it herself by managing a fundraising store in Chipping Sodbury.
Jo Ridler leads the team at the popular Barnardo’s shop in Hatherell’s Yard off the High Street.
She knew from a young age that she had been adopted but it was only last year, after her father died, that she discovered it was Barnardo’s which had helped to find her a new family.
It was some time before she felt ready to return to work after her loss, but when she searched for local opportunities in the retail sector the first vacancy to appear was for Barnardo’s.
Now she is helping to raise funds for the same charity which turned her life around several decades earlier.
Jo, aged 50, said: “I was adopted at the age of just six weeks old and my adoptive parents told me the truth when I was 12 years old.
“They provided a loving home and a wonderful upbringing, and I’ll be forever grateful that they accepted me into their family. It was a life-changing opportunity.
“However, it was only when I was going through my father’s things after he died last year that I discovered it was Barnardo’s which had helped to place me in a new home.
“I needed to take a break from employment after losing my parents but when I felt ready to return to work I searched online for local vacancies – and Barnardo’s was the first employer to appear!
“I was amazed. I was able to give something back to the charity which had given me a second chance in life.
“They took care of me – and now I’m able to help take care of them.”
Jo and her store associate Denise Sprackman lead a team of 19 volunteers aged from 14 to 65 years old.
Last year the volunteers provided more than 1,400 hours of support and received more than 1,300 bags of donations.
The Barnardo’s store is open Monday to Saturday from 9am-5.30pm and Sunday from 10am-4pm.
The team always welcome donations of good-quality clothes, books, toys, games, accessories and bric-a-brac, as well as offers of help from potential volunteers.
Call (01454) 321929.