Fam­ily’s self­less work for hospice

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - OPINION - by Mike Ben­nett

Vi­tal sup­port from mother and daugh­ters

HELP­ING the hospice is a real fam­ily af­fair for one mother and her two daugh­ters.

The Pil­grims Hos­pices, which this year cel­e­brate a quar­ter of a cen­tury of car­ing, rely heav­ily on ded­i­cated vol­un­teers to keep the ser­vice go­ing.

Few do more than the Ralph fam­ily led by Karen, 49, from Hor­nash Lane, Sha­dox­hurst, who is vol­un­teer co-or­di­na­tor for the Ash­ford hospice.

She has been in­volved for six years, ini­tially on the wards help­ing with the tea and cof­fee trol­ley rounds for pa­tients and mak­ing sure they are com­fort­able and up to see­ing their vis­i­tors.

She also served the lunches and din­ners, and car­ried out gen­eral ad­min­is­tra­tion du­ties to min­imise the work­loads of staff.

When the Ash­ford cen­tre of ex­cel­lence first opened she had gone along to see if she could help.

She said: “I found it was re­mark­able how much peo­ple laugh on the ward and was not at all a dis­mal and gloomy place. It is ac­tu­ally rather up­beat.”

Af­ter three years Karen took on more re­spon­si­bil­ity and be­gan help­ing with the vol­un­teers’ in­ter­views and in­duc­tions. Now she co-or­di­nates vol­un­teer driv­ers and gar­den­ers, li­ais­ing be­tween them and the ad­min­is­tra­tor, Jean Dorman.


When a vol­un­teer is un­able to work their shift, it is her job to find cover, some­times un­der­tak­ing the work her­self.

Karen also keeps the data­base up­dated, gives sup­port to the vol­un­teers, or­gan­ises the Christ­mas lunch and the sum­mer gar­den party, and still helps out on the ward do­ing the trol­ley rounds ev­ery Fri­day.

She said: “The hospice is a won­der­ful ser­vice. Pa­tients come in racked with pain, so much so that you can see it in their faces.

“The nurses man­age their pain con­trol so ef­fec­tively that of­ten the pa­tient leaves two days later a dif­fer­ent per­son. It is re­mark­able.”

She is not the only fam­ily mem­ber giv­ing up their time to help. Her daugh­ters Alex and Stephanie are also vol­un­teers. Stephanie, 25 who lives in Ash­ford with her hus­band has also been help­ing for six years.

Alex, who also lives in Sha­dox­hurst, has only just of­fi­cially started vol­un­tary work as a re­cep­tion­ist since she be­came 18, but has al­ways helped her mother with stalls at sum­mer fetes.

She said: “Aware­ness of the hospice is low among young peo­ple and I would urge them to vol­un­teer as it is so worth­while.”

They al­ways need more helpers of all ages and any­one with spare time is asked to call Jean Dorman on 01233 504101.

Pic­ture: Martin Apps pd1199186

Pil­grims Hospice vol­un­teer co-or­di­na­tor Karen Ralph with daugh­ters Stephanie, left, and Alex

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