Charity begins at home for Paula

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After a fast-paced career in the fashion industry at the height of the Celtic Tiger, Derry native Paula Moore has returned to her roots to take up a challenging new position as manager of the local Ulster Cancer Foundation (UCF) charity shop.

Despite many years at the top of her profession, Paula sadly became one of the casualties of the recession and was made redundant after 10 years working for an international company in Dublin.

Being a very positive individual, she has now decided to turn her talents to helping cancer patients and their families and is building a bright new future for herself with Northern Ireland’s leading cancer charity, UCF.

Paula’s ambition nowadays is to refocus the skills she has learned in a tough commercial environment and use them to revitalise the Derry UCF shop and boost profits which will provide vital services which are lifelines for many during their darkest hours.

Paula, from St John’s Park said: “I’ve arrived at a point in my life where I want to go in a new direction, one that involves giving something back to the community. What could be better than helping people who are going through one of the most difficult times in their lives?

“I feel a close connection to the Ulster Cancer Foundation and admire all the support and help it gives to so many people – there are 70,000 families in Northern Ireland who are living with a cancer diagnosis and 11,200 people were diagnosed in the last year.

“Most of us know someone who has been touch by this pervasive disease. My granny and Auntie Anne (who was also my godmother), whom I loved dearly, both passed away from cancer.

“UCF has ten shops altogether and these provide essential funds for services such as a bra-fitting service for women who have had mastectomies, support for children who have a loved one with cancer, or art or creative writing therapy sessions.

“You can get help to stop smoking, take part in a family respite weekend at Corrymeela in Ballycastle, or cancer patients can join a Zest for Life or walking group to help them get through their ordeal.

“We are currently planning a complete overhaul of our Derry operation and will soon have a fabulous new modern shop. My job will be to make it a ‘must’ shopping spot.

“This job feels just perfect for me at this point in my life. I’ve seen the high life and now I’m happy to settle into something more substantial and meaningful.”

Paula’s love of fashion was the springboard for her career - her first job as a teenager was with the high street chain Benetton and before long she was area manager for the Derry, Donegal and Sligo branches.

“When my big break came to work for Benetton in Dublin as a fashion buyer I grabbed it with both hands – I didn’t look back,” she said.

“I was buying for four shops around Dublin. It was just at the start of the Celtic Tiger and it was an amazing time. It was brilliant to be in the middle of the fashion buzz and it was so different from Derry,” she added.

Then the bubble burst and, with the recession and redundancy, her life turned around. With no real prospects in Dublin, she returned to Derry in 2008.

“There I was, a single girl with two mortgages to pay and no job. I was in a state of shock. I’d been living a life where I didn’t have to worry about anything. Overnight that changed. A lot of things were going wrong at the time and I came home to friends and family for a bit of cushion and some TLC.”

But before long, in true Paula style, she picked herself up and took a proactive approach to finding work closer to home.

Fortunately she got a job with Austins department store for a time and since then has been doing consultancy work for a number of different businesses including Suede hairdressers in Derry. Last year she decided to take time out in New York but now she’s back again to take up her new post with UCF. “I’m really looking forward to the job in hand. Everyone out there can help UCF too by bringing in their unwanted goods – anything from good quality clothes, shoes, accessories to house hold items, books and knick-knacks. You never know, might even pick up a bargain when you visit.”

UCF’s shop is at 35 Shipquay Street. Tel: 028 7128 8866 or you can contact Paula on paula.moore@inbox.com.