"I wanted to give something back to St John's and help ensure that it was able to keep going"
When Amanda's Grandma-in-law died at St John's Hospice in Moggerhanger in 1995, little did she know that this would be only the first of many times - happy and sad - at the hospice.
Amanda now works in a paid role as assistant shop coordinator in the hospice's 'nearly new shop', though through her 20-year journey, she has never been far from St John's.
Amanda's father came to St John's during 2002 and 2003 for respite care from Chronic Pulmonary Obstructive Disease (COPD), and passed away in a residential home in 2005. In 2006, Amanda's mother, also living with COPD, received respite care for two years, and sadly died at St John's at the end of December 2008.
In early 2009, Amanda's daughter, Danielle Brandon, joined the fundraising team at St John's, and soon after, Amanda joined the volunteering team as a gardener: "I couldn’t have asked for a nicer place for my mum to spend her last days and wanted to give something back to St John's and help ensure that such an amazing place was able to keep going and keep offering the care my family received," she said.
Around this time, her husband Philip was diagnosed with Hepatitis C, contracted while clearing up an infected needle. And, in 2010, whilst supporting her husband and St John's, Amanda was diagnosed with breast cancer. The next months were a whirlwind for Amanda and her family.
"St John's helped me cope"
On the same day that Amanda was given her diagnosis, her son was diagnosed with a brain tumour. However, in the summer of 2011, after supporting her son through his treatment, and taking the time to recover from her operation, chemotherapy and months of radiotherapy, Amanda came back to St John's to volunteer on reception. James was given two to four years life expectancy.
On coming back to St John's, Amanda appreciated the warm welcome and found it comforting talking to other volunteers, many of whom had had similar experiences. She really felt that "St John's helped me cope and supported me in my recovery."
For the next two years, Amanda increased her support to St John's, helping out in new ways - making baskets for the Easter egg hunt, helping set up and serving tea and coffee at the Lights of Love remembrance service, and doing more shifts on reception.
"I love coming here and helping people"
When a paid role within the shop came up in August 2013, Amanda felt that it would be great to have a more regular, and permanent, role at St John's, and it was just a bonus that she would get paid too!
Amanda has been through so much, but sees St John's as central in her path to recovery. When asked what ties her to St John's, Amanda simply said: "I love coming here and helping people, I love the people here – I enjoy the company, and knowing how much money the shop makes for the hospice makes it even more worthwhile."
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