St Clare volunteer joins Mary Portas’s pop-up employment agency

12:30 16 June 2014

St Clare volunteer Robin Ekblom (front right in yellow shirt) with Mary Portas and his fellow “oldies”.

St Clare volunteer Robin Ekblom (front right in yellow shirt) with Mary Portas and his fellow “oldies”.

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A St Clare volunteer will be highlighting the contribution Britain’s overlooked and undervalued pensioners still have to make when he appears in Mary’s Silver Service on Channel 4 this Wednesday (June 18) at 8pm.

Grandfather-of-four Robin Ekblom, who has been volunteering as a handyman at the Hastingwood-based Hospice since 2008, is among a group of over-65s who dust off the skills they have spent a lifetime perfecting to give Britain the benefit of their experience and expertise as part of Mary Portas’s pop-up employment agency.

The Channel 4 documentary aims to highlight the vast and diverse skills of the older generation and how much they still have to offer society even after retirement.

Former RAF pilot Robin became involved in the show through his contacts in the U3A and said the object was to show that “old does not mean useless”.

The skilled furniture maker and retired hydrography consultant said: “There were about 10 of us oldies, most of whom were plasterers and odd job men. The filming was spread over four days, and after an initial day of preparation, we were set to help refurbish a young couple’s flat.

“Because of my woodworking skills, I was asked to make a toy for the little boy of the house, so part of the time filming was at my home in Doddinghurst watching me make the walking trolley. The camera crew stayed for several hours as I sawed and planed and stuck bits together.

“I was able to give it to the boy at the end of the programme and Mary Portas was so taken with it that she asked me to make one for her nephew as well.”

St Clare voluntary services manager Chris Crump said: “We are privileged to have Robin as a volunteer at St Clare. He has a wealth of experience, wisdom and knowledge, which is invaluable to our facilities team, and is a wonderful example of how much the older generation have to give to voluntary organisations such as ours.”

For more information about volunteering opportunities at the hospice, call the voluntary services team on 01279 773722.

• St Clare Hospice is a charity providing specialist care for people living with life-limiting illnesses in west Essex and east Herts border area.

The charity cares for patients and their families, providing physical, social, psychological and spiritual support. Its annual running costs total £2.8m, 70 per cent of which comes from voluntary income.

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