Volunteers’ Week 2023: stories from across Sue Ryder

07 Jun 2023

As Volunteers’ Week comes to an end for another year, we wanted to take a moment to say thank you again to our incredible volunteers. Together, they have given 1.3 million hours of their time to support our expert and compassionate care, and without them, we couldn’t be there when it matters.

To help you learn a bit more about what volunteering with us is like, here are Lesley, Eddie, and Trevor’s experiences. From supporting our retail teams to caring for our patients and our hospice buildings, they’ve given their time in so many important and rewarding ways. 

Having a positive impact

After seeing the care her father received at Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice, Lesley was inspired to start her volunteering journey with us. 

“My father died 22 years ago and we have lovely memories of his last days. I would go and visit him after work, and we would have a glass of wine together. He was a self-taught musician and I remember the enjoyment he got from playing the organ in the hospice’s drawing room.  

“It wasn’t just the wonderful end-of-life care my father received that stayed with me, it was also the support that the hospice provided to us as a family,” said Lesley, who worked in the education sector for over 50 years. 

“When you retire, there is so much knowledge and experience you have gained over a lifetime of working; it’s just lovely to be able to continue using those skills through volunteering here at the hospice. Nurturing my students was an essential part of my thinking, and listening to and caring for others is fundamental to my volunteering role.”

Female stood by a bench at a Sue Ryder hospice

“As a ward volunteer, I help with practical things like helping to prepare breakfast for our patients, but spending time with them is the most rewarding part of my role. I like to build up good relationships with our patients’ families too, as it can be lonely caring for a loved one. I find it’s the small touches that matter... just remembering how someone likes their tea can really show you care.  

“I would absolutely recommend volunteering. I love what I do. All the staff at Thorpe Hall Hospice are very appreciative of the volunteers and are very friendly too - they make you feel part of a team. You truly get to see first-hand how your actions positively impact other people’s lives.”

Finding a family

Eddie started volunteering in one of our shops as a teenager before getting offered a permanent position as a Sales Assistant. Since then, he has continued to grow and develop, and now Eddie works as a Bank Store Manager at the age of 21.  

“My area has two hospices locally, Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice and Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice. People say Keighley is a town that’s painted blue because everyone here supports Sue Ryder! It was the only charity on my radar, and their values really stood out to me.

“After spending more time with the team at the shop, they became an extension of my family, and I knew I wanted to stay long-term. I came to Sue Ryder with an extremely naïve view of what it was like to work in a charity, and it opened my eyes to what my life could be like. I felt like my path was already carved out for me, but working here made me rethink that, and I realised I wanted to help support people when they need it most.

“My manager has seen me grow from a young person to an adult during my time here. We’ve developed a really strong personal connection, and she’s offered me opportunities that have led me to where I am today. The camaraderie and team spirit I felt when I started has carried me through my whole journey. You’re part of the family here, and I never want to leave!”

Providing decades of support

After first volunteering at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice an incredible 45 years ago, Trevor was recently awarded the Cheltenham Medal of Honour for his decades of service. 

“When I first volunteered, I was living a quarter of a mile away, literally 100 yards from the front drive! My wife came home one day and said she had heard that help was needed to clear the grounds for the upcoming autumn fair - and that’s how it all started really. My father-in-law died in the hospice 30 years ago, so I have that personal connection too. Although his time there was short, the care was exceptional.”

Over the years, Trevor has been integral to some huge building and landscaping projects and continues supporting weekly maintenance tasks to this day.

“I hope to do a few more years at Sue Ryder at least! I was a bit embarrassed when I got the letter through the post telling me I’d been given the award. I don’t consider that I’ve done anything special. Volunteering’s not just a one-way thing - volunteers benefit too. As you get older, you can’t just shut yourself off from the world, otherwise, you lose out a lot on life.

It’s so nice to meet different people and pursue my interests through volunteering, and in my case help a very worthwhile local charity. Isn’t that what life’s really all about?

Join the team

Find out about how you can start volunteering with us today

Two men are sat with mugs, the younger man has his arm around the older man in a comforting gesture

Volunteer with us

Join thousands of volunteers helping us be there when it matters for people going through the most difficult time of their lives.

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