I was able to retire in my mid-fifties from a fairly high-pressure job. The only talent I had was driving so I looked at volunteering in Edinburgh and this post came up. Then I met [former Volunteer Services Manager] Bill Kerr who advised it would take about six weeks for permissions to come through so I started working in the old staff canteen, then after about two years I switched to driving for the Day Hospice which I do every second Monday.
I’ve been here for just over nine years, except for 20 months when I had cancer myself, two years ago. I’m here quite a lot because I’m down as a person they can phone if someone else is ill or can’t make it in. So yeah, I’ve been here a while!
The Day Hospice is a great place. I often drive someone in, look after them all day then drive them home again. The volunteers in Day Hospice basically do the non-clinical stuff, serve the meals and drinks and chat to patients. It’s quite a busy day. A lot of the patients don’t get out and don’t meet people so Day Hospice can be the only day of the week they do. People come for a whole lot of reasons. Sometimes it’s just to give their carer a day off, for others it’s the companionship. A lot of them say it’s the three course lunch – many of them are not mobile and it means they don’t have to cook for themselves at night. If you’re not well and you know you’ve got something seriously wrong with you, if you get a cough you immediately think your illness is worse, so the safety of having nursing staff there that you can chat to gives reassurance to patients too.
I used to run marathons when I was younger and I’ve done a couple of 10ks for the Hospice in my time. I would enjoy playing golf but as I’ve had three major operations my muscles are still repairing, so I go to the gym three times a week to see if I can get the strength to wield a golf club again!
Being even a small part of something that does such a great job is quite fulfilling. My favourite part –though they do come and go – are the people. The patients and the staff that I work with. I’ve enjoyed it.