Despite having 12 children and 23 grandchildren, Lisa James throws boundless energy into her busy role managing a the ellenor charity shop.
She said: “Everyone thinks I’m mad but this is my dream job and I love it. I’m doing something I want to do for someone I want to do it for. I’m making a difference.”
Lisa, who began volunteering for ellenor as her children were growing older, became manager at the Northfleet store three years ago and has never looked back.
She admitted: “I had a big family to look after but as they grew up, I had more time and I decided I wanted to give that time to ellenor. I’m quite passionate about it all, maybe a bit obsessive. I thrive on pressure – the more that’s thrown at me the better I perform!”
Lisa, who is 5ft 1in and weighs just seven stone, inspires awe in those around her. She has 12 children, three of them adopted, who in turn have had their own children. The whole family support her work for ellenor and regularly get involved themselves.
She has always been filled with admiration for the charity, especially as one of her best friends and several of her children’s aunts and uncles were patients in the hospice. Recently two of her very young grandsons took part in a car pulling contest and raised £3,000 for the charity.
“They were brilliant,” said Lisa. “It was one of the proudest days of my life.”
The boys, Teddy, three, and Nathan, two, had originally planned to take part in ellenor’s mini marathon, but when it was cancelled Lisa took matters into her own hands. She contacted close family friend Sean Kennedy, who owns Reps and Sets Gym in Gravesend and has been a regular fundraiser for ellenor.
She said: “I had already raised £500 in sponsorship from shop customers, and I knew Sean also had £100 waiting there for the boys, so I phoned him up and asked what he could do to save the day.”
Sean sprang into action organising a car pulling contest outside the gym for the two youngsters and, thanks to social media, it captured the heart of the whole community.
Lisa said: “People were following us around in their cars to give us money and one lovely lady drove round and round to find us from the other side of town to make a donation. There must have been about 30 who came along to watch. What a way to bring the community together!
“My sons all love bodybuilding and my husband Lee goes to the gym every day. Teddy and Nathan obviously had to do some training for the car pull and it was all done very professionally. You could see Nathan’s little legs buckling though.”
Gym owner Sean, a professional Strong Man, said: “Lisa has been involved in my life since I was 14 and I call her my aunty. What she does is fantastic. I do my little bit putting on competitions and events to help her out. Once she’s done one, she is planning another one. Lisa is all about giving and you can’t say that about many people these days.”