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Meet some of our first vol­un­teers – they were in­spired to help... and could in­spire you, too

- Society · Volunteering · United States of America · NHS · Berkshire · Kidderminster Harriers F.C. · Middlesbrough · Winnersh · Winnersh · Evesham · Evesham · Kidderminster · Market Deeping · Market Deeping · Gretton

MORE than 11,000 amaz­ing read­ers have ral­lied to the Daily Mail’s call for hos­pi­tal vol­un­teers. The re­sound­ing rea­son why? They cher­ish the NHS and want to give some­thing back. Here BETH Hale talks to some of our first wave of bud­ding vol­un­teers, who for var­i­ous heart­felt and mov­ing rea­sons have pledged to give their time. Their sto­ries will in­spire you to join in too.


Linda New­ton, 65, is a re­tired med­i­cal sec­re­tary with two sons and one grand­daugh­ter. She lives in Win­nersh, Berk­shire.

We are so lucky to have the Na­tional Health Ser­vice and yet we hear so of­ten how over­worked it is. Be­fore I re­tired I was work­ing as a med­i­cal sec­re­tary for a pri­vate hos­pi­tal in Read­ing, but many of the con­sul­tants worked in the NHS too so I was very aware of the pres­sures they faced.

I had been think­ing for some time about vol­un­teer­ing, so when I saw the cam­paign it felt per­fect for me. I was wid­owed 11 years ago when my hus­band John died of can­cer – his last few days were spent at the Royal Berk­shire Hos­pi­tal.

It is where I would like to vol­un­teer, even though it will bring back sad mem­o­ries. What that time did show me was that hav­ing a per­son to talk to can make all the dif­fer­ence.

The one en­counter I never for­got was the day I met a cleaner who asked me about my hus­band. She was the most lovely per­son – so friendly and car­ing. That one per­son with thought­ful words made such a dif­fer­ence so I would very much like to be that per­son for some­one else.

There are so many small things that can help. I know, for in­stance, that when peo­ple are be­ing dis­charged from hos­pi­tal they of­ten have to wait two to three hours for their pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tion to be brought up – I could run down to phar­macy and pick it up, or I could help feed peo­ple who are strug­gling to man­age on their own. Just hav­ing some­one with the time to sit down and have a chat can help some­one who is scared and lonely in a hos­pi­tal bed.

When I re­tired my friends joked that I wouldn’t have a minute free, and yes the days fill up, but I know that I can find time for this.


Linda Lamb, 66, a re­tired school head­teacher, lives with her hus­band David, 75, a re­tired build­ing sur­veyor, in Eve­sham, Worces­ter­shire. They have six grand­chil­dren and nine grand­chil­dren be­tween them and have both signed up to vol­un­teer.

Both David and I have been wid­owed. My hus­band John died in 2009 and David’s wife Jean in 2012. We were friends for years – David was ac­tu­ally best man at my wed­ding and John at his – and we got mar­ried to one another in 2014.

Be­cause of our per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences, we both know first-hand what a won­der­ful in­sti­tu­tion the NHS is.

John had a brain tu­mour and was treated daily with ra­dio­ther­apy, but thank­fully, with the help of Macmillan nurses, we man­aged to keep him at home, which was fan­tas­tic.

It is why I sup­port a can­cer cen­tre which sup­ports fam­i­lies, be­cause I know can­cer is a ter­ri­ble thing and you can feel so alone. I’d like to give that sup­port back.

I re­tired seven years ago, but I was a pri­mary school head­teacher, so I’d be very happy vis­it­ing chil­dren, telling them sto­ries.

When this came up we just thought, we have both been through dif­fi­cult times, let’s help.


Jackie Clark, 61, a re­tired pri­mary school teacher, lives with her hus­band Kevin, also 61, a re­tired en­gi­neer, in Gret­ton, Northamp­ton­shire. She has two chil­dren and two grand­chil­dren.

I’ve been look­ing for some­thing to get in­volved in since I re­tired two years ago. I don’t want to go back to teach­ing, it would be too full on, but I do like be­ing in­volved in some­thing, be­ing part of a team. I would hap­pily spend time talk­ing to pa­tients, what­ever is needed.

I’m very aware of how over­stretched the NHS are, I quite like to watch the fly-on-the-wall pro­grammes and they al­ways show how pres­sured things are.

Per­son­ally I can’t fault the NHS, when I had my chil­dren early they were both very poorly at the time and the staff and treat­ment they had were bril­liant.


Kay Lewer, 63, is an of­fice man­ager and lives with her hus­band John, 77, a re­tired pi­lot, in Kid­der­min­ster, Worces­ter­shire.

Since I re­duced to work­ing three days a week, about 18 months ago, I have been think­ing that I would like to do some­thing in the com­mu­nity.

I have first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence of the NHS does –I had breast can­cer 20- odd years ago, the same year that my hus­band had a heart at­tack on the first day of our hol­i­day on a Greek is­land and had to be flown home by air am­bu­lance.

I had a lumpec­tomy at our lo­cal hos­pi­tal in Kid­der­min­ster, fol­lowed by chemo­ther­apy and ra­dio­ther­apy, over about eight months. I sur­vived and what is more, I re­ceived su­perb treat­ment, as did John, who still has a pace­maker.

I’m aware that like lots of hospi­tals Kid­der­min­ster is of­ten short of vol­un­teers. When I saw the cam­paign in the pa­per, it just felt like it is the right time for me to vol­un­teer. I re­ally don’t mind what I do – maybe hav­ing a chat to some­one or run­ning er­rands.


Don Hawkins, 77, a re­tired plum­ber, lives with his wife Janet, 75, in Mid­dles­brough. He has two chil­dren and three grand­chil­dren.

The NHS is an im­por­tant in­sti­tu­tion, but it is un­der a lot of pres­sure so when I saw the cam­paign I re­ally thought I could help. And my wife said, ‘I think it will do you good!’ I’m in good health, I’m ac­tive, I can drive, I would just be happy to do what’s needed, I can eas­ily spare three hours a week and I like to think I’m good with peo­ple.

We keep busy, but I do get a bit bored, es­pe­cially in the win­ter when there’s not so much to do in the gar­den. I used to be in a rock band in my younger days, be­fore I got mar­ried – I’ve got a lot of en­ergy. I’m very grate­ful that af­ter all these years that I am in good health, so I’d like it if I could in some small way help peo­ple who are in hos­pi­tal to get back on their feet.


Denise Cur­ran, 65, is a re­tired civil ser­vant and lives with hus­band Daniel, 68, a re­tired postal worker, in Mar­ket Deep­ing, Lin­colnshire. She’s a mother-of-one.

The health ser­vice has been very good to me, I’ve had two hip re­place­ments – the first one 12 years ago and the sec­ond one seven years ago – be­cause of gen­eral wear and tear and I’ve had my gall­blad­der re­moved.

I’ve al­ways be­lieved in the NHS. I trained as a nurse and in the Seven­ties worked as a gen­eral nurse for about five years, which I en­joyed very much. But when we moved house I couldn’t find another job so ended up en­ter­ing the civil ser­vice. When I saw Satur­day’s pa­per I just felt I’m at an age where I can give some­thing back.

 ??  ?? Linda and David Lamb: ‘We’ve both been through dif­fi­cult times’ Jackie Clark: Keen to get in­volved
Linda and David Lamb: ‘We’ve both been through dif­fi­cult times’ Jackie Clark: Keen to get in­volved
 ??  ?? Don Hawkins: Time to spare
Don Hawkins: Time to spare

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