Shooting Star Chase is lucky enough to be one of 40 charities supported by the Nicest Job in Britain over the next year – and we had the absolute pleasure of welcoming Alice, the winner of the Nicest Job in Britain, to the charity just before Christmas.

Nicest Job in Britain is a not-for-profit initiative that sees a willing, enthusiastic philanthropist with a passion for helping others win the role of National Philanthropy Manager and travel across the country to help 40 hand-picked charities over the space of a year. They spend four days each week at a different charity or third sector organisation and lend a hand with anything from fundraising to decorating. Before winning the Nicest Job in Britain, Alice worked as a corporate solicitor and in her spare time wrote a blog about a number of amazing challenge events she completed to raise money for charity.

Shooting Star Chase was the seventh charity on Alice’s travels and she started her week by meeting the fundraising, communications and marketing, HR and volunteering, and finance teams at our headquarters, Bridge House. From there Alice made her way to Weybridge , where she met with shop manager, Karen, and helped with sorting donations, pricing, merchandising and customer service at our boutique-style charity shop. Alice was set the £2 challenge by staff at Bridge House (where you have to find the best item possible for £2) and she picked a pop up book!

The following three days for Alice were based at our hospices in Surrey and London. Alice spoke about her preconceptions of a children’s hospice: “I have to admit of all the forty charities this year, this one was the one I was most unsure about. As someone with no experience of hospices. I couldn’t picture anywhere more depressing but everyone I spoke to beforehand assured me that they are very happy places and that the people who work and volunteer within them are are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. I was intrigued to find out how could somewhere you go to die be happy?”

But Alice’s uncertainty was soon alleviated when she stepped through the doors of Shooting Star House in Hampton: “You could be forgiven for thinking you were in the North Pole rather than London because the staff and volunteers have gone to town making the hospice as Christmassy as possible! Becky reminded me that actually for the children they care for, simple things like playing in the snow, baking a pudding or being in a school nativity play present serious complications. Shooting Star Chase work tirelessly to give children and their families these Christmas memories and their motto is to make every moment count.”

At both Christopher’s in Guildford and Shooting Star House, Alice spent time learning Makaton in music therapy, accompanied a Hospice at Home nurse to a child’s house while a supported mum got on with her Christmas wrapping, and assisted volunteer, Maggie with all-sorts – including  laundry, playing musical instruments and singing along to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, mopping spillages, making brews, changing sheets, sorting christmas presents and sitting dry-side to support a child and family in the swimming pool. She also helped at a Christmas party at one of our hospices, meeting Harlequins rugby team!

Alice described how speaking to a parent at one of our hospices helped her see the way Shooting Star Chase care for families in unimaginable circumstances: “They described the staff and volunteers as an extended family – sometimes parents feel uneasy talking to friends and family about their child’s illness for fear of making others feel awkward of for bringing the mood down. The hospice is a place where people come from all walks of life united by their inevitable loss which could be years or days away and the staff and volunteers are an essential part of making that journey easier for them.” And at the end of her time at the charity, saw that hospices aren’t sad and depressing places at all, saying: “I realised hospices are not about dying, they are about living.” Read Alice’s blog and watch her vlog to hear all about her time with us.

Melanie Hill, Head of Volunteering at Shooting Star Chase, explains how the charity benefited from Alice’s visit: “It was fantastic to be one of the 40 charities selected by the Nicest Job in Britain and have the pleasure of Alice’s help for a week. Alice was an absolute delight and threw herself in to everything from the moment she arrived, and we can’t thank her enough for her support. In her vlog about her time at Shooting Star Chase she highlights a really common misconception that hospices are not nice places to be – but as she found herself, they are very often full of fun and laughter.

“I’d encourage anyone interested in the work Alice did during her time with us – whether at our headquarters, in our shops or at the hospices – to visit our volunteering page. We have over 700 volunteers at Shooting Star Chase and we couldn’t care for children with life-limiting conditions and their families across London and Surrey without their help.”

Read Alice’s blog and watch her vlog (in the video above) to hear more about her time at Shooting Star Chase.