Hospice of St Francis recognises incredible 600 years’ service by volunteers

Categories: Community Engagement.

At a special awards ceremony, held in the hospice’s health and wellbeing Spring Centre earlier this month, the volunteers were recognised for their long service in roles across the organisation, from the inpatient Unit, reception, back office and shops to the children’s support, bereavement support, gardening, fundraising and driving teams.

Each volunteer received a pin badge and commemorative certificate to mark their length of services, presented by Hospice Chair of Trustees, Alison Woodhams.

Awards for the longest service went to Hospice Home Box Coordinators, Veronica Allan and Margaret Pike, who have for 35 years, helped organise the twice yearly collections of the small purple money boxes, to keep in homes and offices across the hospice’s catchment. Small change that makes a big difference, bringing in around £45,000 every year. 

Retired nurse Veronica, 77, a mum-of-five and grandmother-of-eight, from Friars Walk, Tring recalled working as a bank nurse for the charity when it first opened before going on to become a Home Box Coordinator when the Home Box scheme was first launched in 1983.

“There were very few of us then and families were asked to give just 10p each a week in the hope of making a few thousand pounds a year,” she explained. “Now, there are over 2,000 of us coordinating collectors across Herts and Bucks and it’s been absolutely wonderful to see the hospice go from strength to strength and be a small part of it.

“It’s been an enormous achievement to have expanded and maintained its standard of care – beyond anything anyone could have imagined when it first opened and we are amazingly lucky to have such a facility in this area.”

Taking her certificate with pride, retired phlebotomist and mum-of-two, Margaret Pike, from Bridgewater Road, Berkhamsted, recalled one of the hospice founders, Pam MacPherson, giving a talk about the Home Box scheme to a women’s group at her church and it providing the catalyst for her involvement as a volunteer.

“The big difference in those days was that we had to count the money, which included tiny halfpennies!” she said. “Now, thankfully, the hospice has volunteers who help in finance and do that for us.” 

Kay Lewis, from Tring, Jane Allard, from Berkhamsted and Jackie Anwyl, from Cheddington, were recognised for serving 25, 20 and 10 years respectively, in roles leading the charity’s Bereavement Telephone Support Line, Craft Group and Gardening Team.

Head Gardener, Jackie Anwyl, 57, who is responsible for maintaining the charity’s seven-acre gardens and managing a 38-strong team of volunteer gardeners, said: “I love my role making sure there something in the hospice gardens every day of the year for people to enjoy. It restores your faith in people to work with such a wonderful team of gardeners and to work for an organisation like the hospice, which genuinely cares.”

There are over 50 different voluntary roles and five volunteers for every paid member of staff, without whom the charity could not continue to deliver its outstanding, free care and support to patients and families affected by life-limiting illness across Herts and Bucks.

Commenting on the volunteers’ dedicated service, hospice CEO, Kate Phipps-Wiltshire said:

“The service that everyone here gives and has given –  over 600 years, is a tremendous contribution, setting the standard for all of us in stewarding the Hospice of St Francis over the generations with love, care and expertise. 

“On behalf of the over 2,000 people we support every year, thank you. You help make the Hospice of St Francis the incredible place it is. We truly do what we do because of you.”

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