It wasn’t only the food inside the packages that helped them survive. In a camp full of Australian, New Zealand and Indian cricket fans, Red Cross also helped provide the prisoners with a source of entertainment.

Albie used the strings tied around Red Cross parcels to craft a knitted cricket ball, boiled down to ensure it was hard and durable, so the men could enjoy a game.

This Red Cross connection was something that stuck with Albie’s son Peter, when, decades later, he found himself searching for something to fill his retirement years.

Peter heard his local Red Cross shop was looking for volunteers. It was an easy decision to make.

“The first thing that my father and his brother said was that their lives were saved by Red Cross,” he remembers.

“So I decided to start here at the shop. I found I could make new friends and help people in need.”

Volunteering in one of New Zealand Red Cross’ stores is also a perfect fit with Peter’s professional experience.

After a long career in retail, including qualifications from the NZ Retail Institute, Peter has acquired a lifetime of trade knowledge.

Today, he devotes several hours a week to volunteering in the Kilbirnie store, having just notched up seven years of service.

His extensive expertise and shop manner are valuable attributes on the shop floor, manager Tamsin Matthews says.

“Peter’s experience in retail is vital and noticeable in our shop. His customer service is second to none – he goes out of his way and beyond.”

As for Peter, he enjoys the opportunity to meet customers and chat with his fellow volunteers.

It’s also a way for him to give back to the organisation that helped his father and uncle through the war.

“Every time I put a sale through the register, I’m paying back my thank you to Red Cross,” he says.

Start your own Red Cross story- volunteer in your local Red Cross shop.