COUNT US ALL IN!
Meet some of our first volunteers – they were inspired to help... and could inspire you, too
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.
A CHAT CAN MAKE SUCH A DIFFERENCE
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.
WE HAVE SO MUCH TO GIVE BACK
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.
I WANT TO BE PART OF A TEAM AGAIN
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.
IT FELT LIKE THE RIGHT TIME
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.
MY WIFE SAID IT WILL DO ME GOOD
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.
THE NHS HAS BEEN SO GOOD TO ME
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.