We recently said a fond farewell to Graham Le Page, who retired after thirteen years with the St John HealthCare shop.
Graham joined St John in 2006 after a long career with local retailer Gruts, where he was manager of the photographic department and the St Sampson shop. He also had a short spell at a well-known DIY store.
Surrounded by geraniums and chrysanthemums, in the warmth of a 1920s wooden greenhouse which previously belonged to his grandfather and where Graham now spends a lot of his time growing flowers, he reflected on his time with St John.
“I enjoyed some good times at the shop. I’ve always enjoyed working with the public and having a good rapport with customers. This job gave me the opportunity to make a real difference to people’s lives. I spent a bit of time as the assistant manager, but what I enjoyed most was being on the shop floor”
“We often had to deal with sensitive issues and sometime vulnerable people. There was a time when people didn’t want to be seen in a wheelchair because there was a stigma attached. I used to give the example of my mother who didn’t want a chair despite progressively reduced mobility. She refused to have a chair, then one day I just turned up with one and suggested we went out for a cup of tea. When she asked how I thought she was going to get out of the house I brought in the chair. It gave her some renewed freedom and from that day she didn’t look back.”
“There is a lot more awareness around disability and access issues today and there are a lot of charities and organisations which are there to help. That was one of the things that attracted me to St John.
Graham always welcomed customers with a smile and conversation and say he’s always been a people person who has always valued good customer service.
“There was no such thing as an average day in the shop. The phone was always ringing with people making enquiries or asking for information. We had to be well informed and go on training courses to be able to demonstrate the equipment. We also had a lot of regular customers. Very often I would see a familiar car arrive in the car park and be able to get the items ready for the customer and on the counter before they walked through the door.”When he wasn’t working in the shop Graham was also part of the team that would visit people in their own home to help them with choosing the right products or getting a chair assessment, which he says was another way he could make a real difference.
“I received some very nice messages of appreciation while I was at the shop, especially from some of the care home I worked with and I also had several messages wishing me a happy retirement, which was really nice. There was some good team camaraderie in the shop too and I will miss that”.
Graham is now starting to spend his retirement dividing his time between his passion for gardening, his other hobbies of photography and plane-spotting and volunteering with the Guernsey Voluntary Car Service.
“My father used the service when he lost his mobility, so I wanted to give something back. I volunteer to pick-up people three or four times a week. I might be the only person that they see that day. In a way it’s a continuation of what I was doing at St John and again I feel I can help make a difference.”