"Sue Ryder enabled my husband Steve to have his last wish."

After Julie O’Connor’s husband was cared for by Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice, she started volunteering in any way she could to give something back. This is her story.

Julie volunteering at Leckhampton Court Hospice's Ride for Ryder cycling event.

Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court is a fantastic hospice that, in my experience, helps make an unimaginable situation easier to cope with. Sue Ryder has helped me ignite my life again after the death of my husband Steve who died on 17th May 2014.

Sue Ryder enabled Steve to have his last wish: living his last days at home. His home was his comfort blanket where he felt safe, so being able to care for him at home was very important to both of us.

Steve was very poorly and we had had that unimaginable news, on the day we arrived from Cheltenham General Hospital to Leckhampton Court Hospice, that he was terminal.

"Everyone at Sue Ryder made us feel like we were the only patients."

The amount of compassion and time that was given just to us by the nursing staff was unreal; I was able to stay with him every night he was at the hospice and I don’t have words for my gratitude for that.

After a five-day stay getting medication sorted, we were able to go home. Without the constant daily support of Sue Ryder staff such as Dr Paul Perkins (Consultant in Palliative Care), I would not have been able to achieve Steve’s wishes of him dying at home.

Everyone at Sue Ryder made us feel like we were the only patients, although I fully understand we were one of many. To be honest the only word I can come up with is all round fabulousness from everyone we encountered at Sue Ryder.

"By volunteering, I really hope I make others' difficult times a little easier."

Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice showed my family and I such outstanding care and compassion that I could think of nowhere better to volunteer and give a little back to a very deserving service.

By volunteering, I really hope I make difficult times a little easier with just a smile or hug.

I started volunteering in the Befriending team, where I spend time with someone when they need a friend. At present my befriendee is in a hospice, and I visit her and provide some company and a listening ear. I also help to bring her items she might need. It’s very rewarding knowing I am able to make a very difficult situation a little easier for my lady.

I also help on reception which is very different but again very rewarding. I greet visitors and sometimes give reassurance when required - hopefully making it a little easier at a very daunting time.

I also support the Fundraising team when needed, for example with coffee mornings and other events such as Ride for Ryder – Sue Ryder’s annual charity cycling event in the Cotswolds – which is a really humbling day but very enjoyable.

I would say to anyone considering donating their time...

My advice to someone thinking about volunteering is don’t waste time thinking about it!

There are so many roles that there is something for everyone and it is a very friendly environment. You get to meet such wonderful people and it’s very rewarding.

It is a great privilege to have been given the opportunity to offer very much-needed help and time to an amazing organisation.

I have been able to grow my life again! Thank you.

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Julie O'Connor


Julie O’Connor
Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice

Julie is a befriending, reception and fundraising volunteer at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice. She describes the hospice and its staff and fellow volunteers as "extraordinary", "dedicated" and "compassionate".