As Volunteers’ Week gets underway, a group of long-serving volunteers from Les Bourgs Hospice have met up to celebrate almost 320 years of combined service.
The hospice currently has 130 volunteers with some having dedicated as much as 32 years of loyalty to the charity. Volunteer roles are varied and include working on reception, in the hospice shops, fundraising or supporting the nursing team with the In-Patient Unit and supper duty.
Hospice Director Jo Boyd MBE says the long-serving volunteers are such great champions of the work undertaken at Les Bourgs: “It’s not just the vital work such as reception duties, answering phones, raising money, and doing the washing up that is so important. It’s that everyone brings their heart with them each time they come to help. They are fully paid-up members of the Les Bourgs fan club. It’s very special.”
Les Bourgs Hospice at Andrew Mitchell House was founded in 1991. The property underwent a substantial redevelopment and expansion and re-opened in 2011 to create a purpose-built hospice which is large enough to meet the Bailiwick’s needs.
Margaret Waters has volunteered at Les Bourgs for 22 years: “It’s such a good cause, we all want to give something back to our community. I really wanted to do it and I have loved every minute.”
Mira Domaille has been volunteering for 32 years: “I’m a bit of a control freak and I like to get things done and organise things. So, I joined up to help raise funds and I’ve led the team behind the Rock to Rocque Cycling event for around 29 years.
“I then had the chance to work in the hospice shop. I retired from the finance industry and after years sat behind a desk, I was suddenly meeting lots of interesting people and I love it. The other volunteers are a joy and I’ve made some really good friends.”
“Both my mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law died at the hospice, as have a number of my friends. What strikes me is how well the staff and volunteers look after the family of patients, as well as the patients themselves. They are so kind and supportive.”
Val Norman (32 years) is one volunteer who has seen the service go through huge changes. “We used to do volunteer nursing, driving, we’d sit with patients, whatever was needed really. We would just roll up our sleeves and do it. But regulations change and our duties have too. There have been fantastic improvements over the years.”
Maria Gilman (25 years) remembers having to collect the bread from Warry’s Bakery and bring it to the hospice. Others have had to iron sheets, decorate Christmas trees and run a charity stall on the seafront. Everyone agrees that a good volunteer is a multitasker who is prepared to have a go at anything.
Volunteer Co-ordinator, Lara Higgins says no special skills or qualifications are needed for the job as comprehensive training is given. “All of our volunteers will say that although there is a serious side to the role it can be a huge amount of fun. It’s great for learning new skills and building confidence. It’s also a fantastic way of making new friends. We are always looking to add to the team and people from all backgrounds and walks of life volunteer. So, if you have a warm, empathetic nature and have some free time, please get in touch.”