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A West Midlands man has been awarded Volunteer of the Year by the Salvation Army Trading Company, which runs a family of charity shops across the UK. James Felkins volunteers at the Halesowen charity shop on Hagley Street and has won the coveted award, not only for the charity’s Midlands region, but he beat tough competition from hundreds of other volunteers to win the charity’s overall UK title.

(Pictured above: Paul Wright, Lisa Kimberley, James Felkin and Trevor Caffull)

With over 200 entries submitted up and down the country, Salvation Army bosses were overwhelmed by the calibre of volunteers. It was up to Head of Retail, Paul Wright, and Managing Director, Trevor Caffull, to select the winner, and their decision was unanimous.

Paul Wright, said: “We’re delighted to say that we weren’t short of entries for this award as all our volunteers are talented and committed! It was hard to choose a winner, however James deserved this based on the excellent feedback we had from his colleagues. In essence James represents all our volunteers, without whom we could not achieve everything we do.

“We are always on the look-out for new volunteers to support our shop teams so if you think you can spare a few hours a week we’d love to hear from you. Who knows, next year you could be in line for one of our awards!”

Halesowen shop manager, Lisa Kimberley, was full of praise for James. She said: “James is very passionate about working for The Salvation Army and knows a great deal about the charity. He volunteers most weeks, often giving his time on a full-time basis to help our shop to achieve its potential. He not only supports at Halesowen, but he also helps at our other shops within the local area when they are short of staff.

She added: “James is somewhat of a shop celebrity, and he’s often asked after by customers when he’s not around. He provides the selection of music mixes in the shop, which creates a lovely atmosphere – customers have even been known to dance around in the shop, such is their delight at the choice of music! James never fails to remember that an army marches on its stomach too, and on many mornings, he’ll arrive early to prepare tea, coffee and toast for his fellow colleagues and volunteers!”

James is a volunteer key holder, which means that he is responsible for opening and closing the shop in Lisa’s absence. Of that, Lisa says: “the shop could simply not function without James.”

Shop: Halesowen