Three of Ashgate Hospice’s longest-serving volunteers who have more than a combined 100 years’ service between them are inviting others to do their bit to helpprovide care.
Brenda Bagshaw, Kathleen White and Dorothy Tilley have been giving up their time to support the North Derbyshire hospice’s work since it was founded in 1988.
The trio, from Chesterfield, are the joint longest serving volunteers at the hospice and have racked up a milestone of 35 years’ service each.
Dorothy, a Community and Events Volunteer, Kathleen, an Inpatient Unit volunteer and Brenda Bagshaw, a Retail Assistant say they all “feel privileged” to have been able to play an integral role in shaping the hospice over the years.
Ahead of Volunteers’ Week’, which takes place between 1 and 7 June, they met to discuss some of their fondest memories of the past three-and-half decades and the benefits of volunteering.
“I feel privileged to have been part of the hospice for such a long time,” said Dorothy, who started volunteering on the Inpatient Unit after attending inaugural meetings upon the inception of the hospice.
“Ashgate has developed and became part of area. The community put in not only their money, but the time and interest to keep it going. It’s been a huge part of my life ever since it began.
“I consider the hospice to be my second family and still feel quite emotional visiting the Inpatient Unit because it was my second home for a very long time.”
Brenda was instrumental in the launch of the hospice’s first shop and still helps there to this day; she started volunteering because she wanted to give something back after her husband, Harry, was cared for by the hospice at the end of his life.
“My husband was here in 1990 and was only here for 36 hours and the care was just faultless,” said Brenda.
“The biggest thing that happened to me was that somebody took over mine and his stress.
“The word went out that the hospice wanted volunteers and initially I wanted to go into the office, but you weren’t allowed to volunteer for a year after a bereavement.
“But I saw an advert in the local paper for people to make donations of old clothes – we ended up having clothes piled up in the attic of my old house before the shop opened!
“I remember when we opened the shop, we had a big hooray when we got £100 in a day – it was amazing! It was on a small scale, but we were making a difference.”
Kathleen has been serving meals to patients at the hospice’s Inpatient Unit on Thursday evenings shortly after the service opened in 1988.
She urges anyone thinking about volunteering to “just go ahead and do it”.
Kathleen whose mother received care at home from the community team, said: “I started because I had two friends who were terminally ill who had young children. I just felt that there was a better way they could have been looked after.
“Now I can’t imagine a Thursday evening without going to the hospice; it’s a big part of my life and keeps me in touch with reality.
“People come in and can be so poorly that they can’t eat, then they’ll have a bit and feel a little better and before you know it, they’re eating normally again! The hospice helpspeople feel secure, more relaxed and comfortable.
“Everyone always says how well their family member and the actual family have been looked after while they’ve been at the Inpatient Unit or at home. People can’t speak highly enough of it – that’s never changed.
“I would urge anyone thinking about volunteering to just go ahead and do it! It’s not a sad place and you’ll be surprised how much you enjoy it and what you get out of doing it.
“There are sad moments but there’s so many moments of happiness and I’ve made so many memories over the years. Signing up all those years ago was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!”
The charity, which is based in Chesterfield, North Derbyshire, has more than 750 dedicated volunteers across the organisation who help to provide care in different ways.
From serving customers at the charity’s coffee shops to helping tend to the hospice’s beautiful gardens – there are a range of roles available at Ashgate Hospice to suit a variety of skills and interests.
Not only do volunteers benefit from gaining work experience and socialising with different people, but ultimately their efforts help fund vital palliative and end-of-life care services for the patients and families who need it most.
Anyone who is interested in joining the Ashgate Hospice team as a volunteer can find out more at www.ashgatehospice.org.uk/