At the end of October, Heather Titley, a much-loved member of our community sadly passed away. I would like to pay a personal tribute to Heather’s fantastic contribution to Emmaus Mossley and share some of the many ways in which she embraced the Emmaus ethos.

When Heather moved to Mossley, Emmaus was one of the first places she visited. Following the visit, Heather told her partner that she would like to work for us and so began an exciting chapter in her life. Heather initially started at Emmaus Mossley as a volunteer before becoming a staff member in September 2013.

Heather applied and was successful in her application to the role of Assistant Administrator within our main office. Her initial duties involved a wide range of admin and finance tasks to ensure the smooth running of our community, charity and social enterprise. From organising the weekly food order to helping companions book and plan their holidays, Heather juggled multiple priorities and was always willing to help out wherever else she was needed.

Heather’s role developed and her contribution was felt right across our organisation. She improved our volunteer processes and induction, helped with social media and got Emmaus Mossley going on eBay. Heather stepped in to help cover Saturdays and supported the café which she really enjoyed. She helped out with anything that was required, no matter how far removed that was from her job role.

A formidable force for good

Heather was unique and we have so many stories of the fun, madness and sadness we all enjoyed together that it’s impossible to put it all into words. If you knew Heather, you would know that she was a determined character who wasn’t afraid to make her views known and stood up for the things she believed in. She would be the first person to speak out if she felt that something wasn’t fair or acceptable, especially in relation to anything to do with companions, but would also be willing to do the work involved in making it better.

Heather had the difficult job of helping to manage our charity’s budgets and our cooks have already said they miss their weekly arguments about shopping lists and stock levels. Heather was the one who chased companions and staff when receipts were not given in, kept us on track with our admin responsibilities and always ensured that any spending was carefully managed.

One funny example of Heather’s frugal but practical nature is when she sold a pair of shoes via our charity’s eBay. When she took the box to the Post Office, due to its size, they wanted to charge more than the postage costs she had listed. Rather than paying extra, she proceeded to re-package the shoes individually and post them separately. Thankfully, both parcels arrived with the buyer.

But there was another side of Heather that not everyone saw, her compassion and empathy for those in need and experiencing difficulties. That’s where we would really see the determination in Heather to help, to care and to be a friend when needed.

Contributing to the life of our community

Heather’s support of Emmaus Mossley, outside of her day job, knew no bounds. In the early years, she volunteered to take part in an Emmaus charity sale in Manchester and also joined companions in a protest march against homelessness. Heather volunteered to help with many other Emmaus events over the years, often in the evenings or at weekends.

Heather actively participated in Emmaus solidarity activities, supporting people and groups in greater need. She took part in our outreach project, providing clothes, warm food and drinks to people who were street homeless. Within the local community, Heather also participated in community litter picks and volunteered at Mossley SOUP events. She encouraged our community members to support other causes and was central to us holding Macmillan Coffee Mornings every year.

For companions, Heather organised and led evening and Sunday social walks, sometimes with picnics included, and was involved in the take up of crown green bowling.  A few years ago, she volunteered on Christmas day to help companions cook their turkey dinner.  Heather was vegetarian but didn’t let her own beliefs get in the way of helping others. Her baking and cake-making skills were also widely enjoyed by our community members.

Representing our community abroad

Heather enjoyed experiencing different places and cultures, taking part in two work trips to explore Emmaus communities abroad. Back in 2015, Heather was one of four from Emmaus Mossley who volunteered for a week at Emmaus Feniks in North Holland. Heather helped to sort and prepare items for sale in their shop and spent time meeting new people within their close-knit community.

In 2018, Heather joined two companions and a staff member on a working trip to support an Emmaus group in Srebrenica, Bosnia. The group was set up to support people and families left in dire need and traumatised after the Bosnian War. Heather and fellow volunteers helped on a farm and visited different sites to learn how the effects of war are still being felt by communities to this day.

Part of the Emmaus family

Emmaus Mossley as a family or extended family is a feeling shared between many of our companions, volunteers and staff. Heather was very much a big part of our family and one which she wanted to share with other members of her own family.

Heather introduced her son Nial to our charity to take part in a six-week work placement for his degree course. He then got the Emmaus bug too, continuing to help in our Superstore after his placement, completing a fundraising run in Leeds, and performing live at our Sound & Vision charity evening.

When Heather became a granny, her world changed. Heather couldn’t have been more proud of her daughter Ella and grandson Cody. The ‘grandma club’ shared stories and photographs of our grandchildren’s progress. Heather started Cody’s introduction to Emmaus Mossley early on as she would bring him in to choose a toy or to have lunch when she was looking after him.

Heather’s partner Justin was also roped into Emmaus duties to help when we needed a van driver. Off the van, Justin gave his time to play football with companions and take part in our charity football matches.

A legacy to be proud of

Heather really did make a huge contribution to our charity and to the lives of many people she met along the way. As a community, we feel great sadness but are supporting each other and holding dear the many happy memories we have. Equally, we are supporting Heather’s family as best we can at this difficult time.

If you knew Heather or met her on your visits to Emmaus Mossley, I encourage you to share your personal memories and feelings in the book of condolence within our Secondhand Superstore because this book will then be passed onto her family.

Heather’s funeral will take place on Friday 19 November and the wake will take place at Emmaus Mossley. As a result, our Secondhand Superstore will be closed that day. We are also extremely grateful that instead of flowers, Heather’s wish was for donations to Emmaus Mossley.

Both personally and on behalf of Emmaus Mossley, I feel so fortunate that Heather made it her mission to become part of our community all those years ago. She was involved in the life of Emmaus Mossley much more than administration and her legacy will live on for many years to come.