A LAKE District volunteer has been declared International Oxfam Person of the Year.
Barrie Wendt received the accolade not only for his work at the Ambleside shop, but for business retailing systems he has developed and introduced nationally, which keep over 700 UK Oxfam shops running smoothly.
Mr Wendt started volunteering for Oxfam when he retired over 22 years ago. But his previous career, working for the British government in tropical agriculture as a research agronomist, had already given him a deep understanding of some of the countries and people helped by Oxfam.
“I worked for years in Uganda, Nigeria and Sri Lanka, where I always seemed to be living in the back of beyond, so I understand about the places that we raise money for,” he said.
“I was involved with numbers and data in agriculture, assessing the most effective ways that British aid could be spent – and I found I was still working with numbers in retirement, this time devising retail and financial reporting systems for the Oxfam shops.”
Oxfam, which works to find solutions to poverty and related injustice around the world, receives £30m income annually from its 700 UK shops, including £50,000 from Ambleside.
The shop has about 30 volunteers, many of whom gathered to celebrate Mr Wendt’s award.
The busy shop is generously supported with donations, which over the years have included some very unusual items such as a surgical truss, and a sewing machine stuffed with money in which someone had hidden their savings.
Somebody once donated a sex aid, and volunteers even found a grass skirt one day among the donated clothing.
In a framed citation for the Person of the Year, Oxfam’s Chief Executive, Dame Barbara Stocking, praised Mr Wendt’s dedication, expertise and willingness to train and support Oxfam shop managers and volunteers, which she said had made an incalculable contribution to the charity’s trading division.