From stock donation centre volunteer to charity shop manager. Dave Arliss, earns his wings at Wirral Hospice St John’s

Published on: 28/05/2021

In August last year a fair number of hospice staff, alongside some of our dedicated retail volunteers, spent at least one of their working or volunteer days helping out at our, temporary, charity shop stock donation centre at Hoylake.

It seemed like just about everyone had been using the first national lockdown to have a good tidy up and a long overdue clear out and that pent up demand to donate pre-loved items was at an all-time high.

It was a really busy old time.

So, with the need to service this tsunami of stock donations, how lucky was Wirral Hospice St John’s when the former RAF police officer, Mr Dave Arliss, reported for the duties he’d volunteered for?

Well, most fortunate as it happens!

Dave, was always there before the shutters had come up on the loading bay on his volunteer days and he was only too happy thereafter to ‘get his hands dirty’ (don’t worry all the proper precautions were in place).

To watch Dave ‘go’ was a lesson in quiet determination. He was soon greeting our stock donors with their carloads of heavy bags of clothing, shoes, accessories, bric-a-brac, portraits, books and a whole host of other goodies.

Dave would be ferrying bags of donated clothes and other items, there and back, there and back, through the loading bay and then into the cavernous 6,000 square feet of space behind.  The donated items were then stored for 72 hours, before being sorted by the team of volunteers and then transported out to our seven charity shops in Birkenhead, Liscard, Claughton, New Brighton, West Kirby, Heswall and Moreton.

With only a half-hour break for lunch and the occasional cup of tea on the side (which invariably would go cold as the loads just kept coming) Dave would just plough on, making his vital contribution.

He made a positive impression on the team and, in those lunch half-hours, we got to know him a little bit and, since then, quite a lot more.

As a former RAF police officer it is fair to say that Dave has seen lot of the world. Like all service people he doesn’t (can’t) go into detail. Suffice it to say, he’s seen ‘action’. Tours of the Falkland Islands, the Persian Gulf and Germany are mentioned and it was the latter country where he completed his twelve year service.

So what does a 12 year veteran do when he leaves military service? He gets a job in retail, of course. Dave began running a shop for the Forbuoys group of newsagents and convenience stores. A management buyout occurred a little time later and, all the stores you now see under the McColl’s name, become part of a national chain.

Ever resourceful Dave soon rose to the position of Retail Development Manager, spending his time visiting McColl’s stores nationwide to advise on merchandising and layout to maximise sales.

Then, after 16 years of loyal and valuable service McColls decided, late in 2019 and throughout the first quarter of 2020, to close 330 shops and redundancy was on the cards for many, including Dave.

Some seven years ago he’d moved to Wirral to be close to his partner, Liz, who in harmony with this story, had volunteered at Wirral Hospice St John’s, in Inpatients ward general duties, for five years.

This is how Liz first saw the call for volunteers in the stock donation centre and, so, naturally given Dave’s experience and while looking for a new job, he found himself helping in the effort to re-stock our charity shops following the first national lockdown.

At that time there were no full-time jobs in retail at the hospice and, with everything, everywhere, for the sector still very much ‘up in the air’, Dave took a job at Moreton Dairies.

This guy will do anything to keep the wolves from the door! He’s only getting up at 1am in the morning to load his delivery van, work a full shift and then still come into the donation centre a couple of times a week to keep up his volunteering! He’s Superman! (He doesn’t see it that way, “I’m just doing my bit,” he says, smiling). WOW!

Anyway, as the stars begin to align, our long serving and hard-working Moreton charity shop manager, Ricky Mulheirn, decides it is time to retire and makes his ‘goodbyes and farewells’ on October 31st.

A job becomes available but, it’s not that easy. Fair recruitment is a mainstay of hospice practice and after showing an expression of interest and applying for the vacant position Dave joins a list of qualified applicants for a thorough interview process.

Happily, after further demonstrating his experience and ideas, Dave was offered the job and he joined us in December 2020.

After leading the supportive Moreton volunteers in the run up to Christmas, things changed again. A new national lockdown was announced, so Dave, able to bring his merchandising skills to the table meant he, alongside our other shop managers and our retail development manager, Paddy, became involved in the preparation of our charity shops for the lifting of restrictions.

And today? It is summer once more and with people looking for all kinds of diversions following lockdown, they’ve been out and about in significant numbers. And, after more than a year of stop-start disruption, our charity shops are beginning to recover some revenue thanks to the outstanding support of our whole Wirral community.

Dave Arliss is now a big part of that. He appreciates that his experience has led him to a place where what he now does every day makes a substantial impact towards the funds the hospice needs to deliver its specialist care and support services.

Thank You, Dave. You’ve earned your wings in the RAF and now, we’re certain you’ve earned another set for your work for Wirral Hospice St John’s.


If you have some time to spare and feel you could earn your wings at Wirral Hospice St John’s in one of our charity shops, then don’t hesitate to get in contact with us.

Check out in the first instance or, email

We’d love to hear from you.