Peggy and Sue are two of St Catherine’s Hospice longest serving volunteers. Here, they explain why they’ve given their time to support their local hospice for more than 30 years.
“Volunteering here keeps our lives in perspective
Sue: “I joined St Catherine’s as a volunteer the year after it opened in 1984. Dr Bridget was one of the founding hospice members and she headhunted people who were already on charity committees. I was on the Smallfield Barnardo’s children’s charity committee and after an interview I started volunteering in the kitchen. It was much more like a cottage hospice in those days and all in one building. Later on I sometimes helped in other roles too. In reception on a Sunday, in the volunteers’ office and as a driver for Day Hospice.”
Peggy: “I’ve volunteered here for 30 years since 1989. When I first started volunteering there were no vacancies at the actual hospice. So I began volunteering in the hospice coffee shop in Horley. In the summer of 1989 I started doing the Thursday tea trolley at the main hospice, a role I still do today. I’ve always been someone who’s given my time to volunteer since I was 20 years old. I volunteered with the WRVS (Royal Voluntary Service) for 27 years and I’d heard about the hospice as I live locally. I had time to spare so I thought I’d help them too. I was one of the volunteers who started the coffee shop in the hospice. We used to sell breakfast and homemade cards and pottery to raise funds. In those days we sold toiletries for patients who came to the hospice at short notice too. During my time volunteering I’ve also worked with the Therapy Team, cleaning equipment and helping with clerical work.”
Today, Peggy and Sue volunteer together on Monday mornings in the hospice kitchen
It’s a busy time as all St Catherine’s homemade cakes are baked for the coffee shop on a Monday. But they do whatever they can to support the kitchen staff. As Sue explains, “We refill water jugs, clear the patients’ breakfasts’ away, wash up, and then take the tea and coffee trolley round the wards mid morning.”
Peggy adds, “After that we serve lunches and clear the trolleys. We’re here a few hours and most weeks we’re definitely kept busy!”
Peggy: “Over the years we’ve seen a lot of change. The hospice has grown but I still enjoy coming. The kitchen staff are always so friendly and it’s a very welcoming atmosphere.
There’s a great sense of camaraderie in the kitchen”
Sue: “I feel valued by the kitchen staff and I enjoy working in the kitchen as it’s the hub of the hospice building.
I’ve met some lovely people here and made some really good friends”
Peggy: “Volunteering here keeps my life in perspective. And I have a laugh with relatives when I’m taking the tea trolley round the wards. Living locally I sometimes see them out and about, and I’ll always ask how they’re doing.
I often try to convince people that the hospice is a cheerful place, it’s not a place full of sadness. It’s never worried me coming here as I find it peaceful but if people don’t want to volunteer at the hospice, there’s still other ways they can give their time, in the hospice charity shops or at events”
Sue: “One of the things I most appreciate about the hospice is the way they celebrate every occasion and any event in life.
On Valentine’s Day, we serve patients decorated breakfast trays and at Easter, we give patients Easter Eggs. And the kitchen team have arranged birthdays and even weddings at short notice. They always get things together very quickly. It’s amazing to see what they do for people”
Peggy: “I love that sort of thing! And the team do Christmas stockings for patients at Christmas too. Just last week the kitchen baked a birthday cake for a little girl, who was 10, whose Dad died at the hospice. And they recently held a party for a patient on the ward. She was so thrilled and had such a lovely smile when she saw what they’d done. The team do whatever they can to make things a little brighter at a hard time.”
There’s a lot of support for volunteers too
Sue: “I’ve learnt a lot during my time volunteering. I’ve been on lectures and courses and there are always things going on with which you can join in if you want to. If you’re thinking about volunteering with St Catherine’s, I’d encourage you to come along and give it a go. Come to the hospice and try out a role.”
Peggy: “I’d definitely encourage people to think about volunteering at the hospice too. It’s a place where a lot of people would like their families to come to. As a volunteer, you make a difference to those people.”