Stuart Fisher, 69, has been a volunteer at Sue Ryder’s specialist neurological care centre, The Chantry, for more than five years. He drives residents to appointments, takes them on outings, to visit family and also visits a particular resident once a week for coffee, a chat and the occasional game of Scrabble.
‘I do it because I absolutely love it,’ he said. ‘I do anything from three to 15 hours a week. Mostly it’s driving. Out of every ten trips I do for Sue Ryder at least six will be just taking people to hospital appointments but I have also taken residents on outings to Felixstowe, Alton reservoir, shopping, the theatre, the museum or even out to lunch.’
Stuart followed a long career in manufacturing finance with five years working for a local hospice, where he managed a distribution team of 50 volunteers sorting donations for the charity’s East Suffolk shops. He first volunteered at The Chantry when he retired and hasn’t looked back.
‘I can genuinely say I get as much out of my volunteering as I put in’
‘When I retired I knew I wanted to do some volunteer work. I saw an advert for Sue Ryder in the most unlikely place so I applied not really thinking much of it and more than five years later I’m still here! If you are fortunate enough to be fit and healthy when you retire I think it helps to maintain a bit of structure in your life and I can genuinely say I get as much out of my volunteering as I put in.’
‘I try to avoid the Scrabble because he always beats me and I am not good at losing!’
After starting as a volunteer driver taking residents out and about in the centre’s minibus, Stuart later befriended a resident with a cerebral disorder, visiting him once a week to help with errands or just to sit and chat. When the resident sadly died in September 2018 Stuart decided to carry on befriending and now regularly visits another resident.
‘Sue Ryder has accommodation in Ipswich where four people live independently and I visit one of the tenants there. I’m not the sort of person who will just tell people what they want to hear and I think he appreciates that. We meet every Friday for a couple of hours and we might go out for a coffee, play Scrabble, watch the cricket or sometimes we just sit and chat and put the world to rights. I try to avoid the Scrabble because he always beats me and I am not good at losing!’
‘The people at The Chantry are wonderful and it’s such a great atmosphere’
After five years volunteering at The Chantry Stuart is well and truly part of the Sue Ryder team
‘I think The Chantry is part of me now although it’s not something everyone knows about me. We all need to be kinder to ourselves and one another and volunteering for Sue Ryder is something I do for me. The people at The Chantry are wonderful and it’s such a great atmosphere. When I walk through the building half a dozen people will say, ‘morning Stuart’ and that’s a wonderful thing in itself and is always a wonderful start to the day; why wouldn’t I want to do it!!’