National Storytelling Week – St Catherine’s Special Delivery

News and Blog

This week is National Storytelling Week. Every single person who supports the hospice, from patients and their families, to our staff, volunteers and supporters, has a story to tell. To mark this week, hosted by The Society for Storytelling,  we’ll be sharing some of these stories with you.

First up are volunteers, Colin, Geoff and David.

We have a wide range of volunteer roles but there’s one role you may be less familiar with – that of our sample drivers, who fulfil a critical function for us.

These three volunteers split the sample driver responsibility across the week and between them make sure that any clinical samples, like blood or specimens, are safely transported, in a special red box, to Crawley and East Surrey hospitals for testing. This allows our clinical teams to give patients the exact treatment they need.

Prescription orders are delivered to Kamsons Pharmacy in Broadfield and sometimes, the drivers also make visits to the blood bank, pathology supplies warehouse and equipment library at East Surrey Hospital.

David explains how they’ve become familiar faces: “On the lab run I meet lab technicians, receptionists, and various other pharmacy and hospital staff.  I’m a regular visitor now, and it’s fun because the banter is pretty good the whole way round the circuit.”

Fellow volunteer Geoff, originally joined us as a patient driver but changed roles after he broke his foot and was unable to help people with wheelchairs, He explains: “as luck would have it I noticed a vacancy for sample drivers. I’ve been doing this role on Mondays and Wednesdays for a year now and thoroughly enjoy it.”  

“It’s important that we deliver all samples within a defined timescale in order to tie in with the hospital timetable. On rare occasions it can be touch and go if doctors and nurses here are running behind and samples aren’t ready to be transported, but everyone works together, generally with a smile, so it all works out. Volunteering fits in nicely with the rest of my life and I feel I’m doing something that, in some small way, helps.”

For David, being a sample driver fits neatly alongside his other volunteering role driving patients to and from Day Hospice on Thursdays and Fridays. He said: “This additional role fits my itinerary perfectly, and is really useful for IPU. After retirement, it’s a big plus to work for St Catherine’s because I’m once again part of a large and diverse team, with many nice colleagues amongst both staff and fellow volunteers.”  

And the volunteers’ efforts in this unique role don’t go unnoticed. Sam, one of our Specialty Registrars, commented:“These wonderful volunteers make a huge difference to our patients and ward staff. They’re always friendly and help us get specimen and blood tests delivered to the lab in time so that we can get any results we need promptly. This allows us to make timely decisions about medications and how to look after our patients. It’s a vital and often unknown volunteer role.”

If you are interested in volunteering with us, please visit our volunteering page, contact the Volunteering Team on 01293 447351 or email