Celebrating our wonderful colleagues in Volunteers’ Week

News and Blog

It’s Volunteers’ Week from 3 – 9 June, a chance to celebrate the outstanding contribution volunteers make across the UK and an opportunity to thank them for their hard work, dedication, and generosity.  

At St Catherine’s we’re lucky enough to be supported by more than 900 volunteers and last year it is estimated that they gave more than 29,000 hours to support our hospice.

From serving customers in the Woodgate Hub to supporting patients and visitors on our wards, as well as raising funds in our charity shops, flying the flag at events, and providing a listening ear to those who need it, they make a monumental difference to the work that we do.

As part of Volunteers’ Week, we’re shining a spotlight on four of our incredible colleagues to offer an insight into the different ways volunteers support us across our special charity. 

Andrew Nicol, Volunteer Shop Assistant in East Grinstead 

First up is Andrew Nicol. Andrew is one of the 290 volunteers who help in our 13 charity shops across West Sussex and East Surrey. Andrew has been volunteering in our East Grinstead shop for seven months and recently helped us move to our new store. He shares his experience of volunteering with St Catherine’s:

“I was a haematology nurse back in the day but had to give up work when I was diagnosed with leukaemia. After taking a break for my health, I decided to start volunteering. 

“My mother – who died three years ago – used to hold plant sales to raise money for St Catherine’s, so I wanted to carry on the good work she did to support the hospice.  

“The new shop is a huge improvement. It’s such a light, bright, open space. I volunteer three half days a week and really enjoy it here. 

“A typical shift involves serving customers, processing donations, keeping the shop clean and tidy, and making lots of tea and coffee for the team. 

“All sorts of wonderful things get donated to us in the shop. One of the best things about volunteering is getting first pick of the items that come in! 

“I would thoroughly recommend volunteering to anyone. It gives me a real sense of purpose and is such a great way to give back to society.” 

Pat Wingett, Volunteer Café and Community Hub Assistant 

Next up is Pat Wingett. Pat joined the Woodgate Hub team last August. She tells us more:

“When I gave up work just after Covid, I didn’t want to just sit at home. Crawley Community Action helped me find several volunteering roles within the area, including at St Catherine’s. I now volunteer in the Woodgate Café every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. 

“I help with whatever task needs doing, including cooking and baking, clearing tables, and tidying up. I didn’t know much about cafés before I started here, so I’m constantly doing things I’ve never done before and I’m really enjoy learning lots of new skills. 

“One of the things I enjoy most about my role is talking to people and connecting with members of the community. Listening to their stories and giving people my time can really benefit their wellbeing. 

“I also helped with St Catherine’s gift wrapping service at Christmas and will be volunteering at the Midnight Walk too. I can’t get enough of it! 

“If anyone is thinking about volunteering, I would say ‘go for it!’ – it’s so important to get out and try new things in life.”  

Mel Thornton, Volunteer Kitchen Assistant 

Next is Mel Thornton. Mel has volunteered at the hospice for 20 years; we will be celebrating her outstanding contribution at our Volunteer Awards this week. Here, Mel tells us what has kept her at St Catherine’s for so long:  

“When I finished working I really wanted to volunteer my time to help at St Catherine’s. I lost my husband here some years before and I wanted to help support others going through the same experience. 

“Originally I volunteered in our coffee shop, helping to serve drinks and home-cooked treats to patients, families, and visitors. I then joined our busy kitchen team, taking the tea trolley and water jugs onto the ward for patients, as well as helping to keep the kitchen clean and tidy.  

“One of the best things about volunteering is the people. I really enjoy supporting patients and their visitors – it might be helping them with a drink or listening to their stories. Just listening can make such a difference and sometimes is all someone needs.

“I absolutely love volunteering at the hospice, it means so much to me, and I have made some really close friends during my time here. I tell everyone I meet what a special place St Catherine’s is and I am honoured to be part of it.”

Dotty Jenner, Volunteer Shop Assistant in Caterham 

Last but not least is Dotty Jenner, and at just 15 years old she is one of our youngest volunteers. Dotty volunteers in our Caterham shop, helping her to gain valuable work experience whilst collecting volunteering hours towards her Duke of Edinburgh Award. Dotty said:

“I have been volunteering at the St Catherine’s charity shop since April last year. I wanted to start helping out, not only for my Duke of Edinburgh Award, but also to give back to the community.

“I wanted to offer my time to St Catherine’s specifically because my nan was at the hospice a few years ago and I remember how lovely all the people were who helped her. 

“My role in the shop mainly involves sorting out donations and tagging them ready to go on the shop floor. I have met some lovely people at the charity shop and all the staff are very kind. I enjoy the people and the community feel the most.

“If someone wanted to start volunteering at St Catherine’s I would absolutely tell them to go for it, I think it’s an amazing thing to do. It’s a great way to understand what a job might involve when you leave school too.”

We wanted to say a massive thank you to all of our fantastic volunteers for the difference they make to St Catherine’s and the positive impact they have on those that we care for. 

If you’re interested in volunteering at our hospice then we would love to hear from you. Take a look at our current vacancies or register your interest.