A dedicated and loyal St Richard’s Hospice volunteer has been awarded the British Empire Medal in recognition of her decades of supporting bereaved families.
Hundreds of bereaved individuals and families have benefited from the caring support of St Richard’s Hospice volunteer Mary-Rose Fawkes, from Worcester, over the last 28 years.
The former nurse became one of the first St Richard’s Hospice volunteers when it was set up in Droitwich and has continued to work for the charity as it has expanded over the years. She had previously trained as a nurse in London where she had worked alongside Dame Cecily Saunders, the founder of the British hospice movement.
Mrs Fawkes moved to Worcester and wanted to help the fledgling St Richard’s Hospice.
She said, ”My parents died within months of each other when I was just six years old and I remember three wonderful people who helped me through that time. I wanted to give that care to other people.”
“Over the years with St Richard’s I have supported bereaved people in groups and as individuals, often going into their homes and supporting them after the death of a loved one. It’s very important to be able to offer bereavement support, as many people can feel very lonely and isolated.”
“I find it tremendously fulfilling to see people progress through their bereavement. It’s a real privilege for me to travel along their journey of bereavement: the key is listening and gaining empathy.”
She added, “I keep learning and have been very grateful for all the bereavement and counselling training and support I have been given by the team at St Richard’s over the years. There is always someone at the hospice who will help and listen to me so I can make sure I am giving the best support to the people I see, whether as a patient before their death or their loved ones into bereavement.”
Mrs Fawkes also said she could not have given the time and care as a volunteer without the full backing of her husband John.
Mrs Fawkes will be awarded her medal by the Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire, Lt Col Patrick Holcroft LVO, OBE and will take her husband and grandchildren to a garden party at Buckingham Palace later this year.
Sarah Popplestone-Helm, Head of St Richard’s Family Support Team said, ““We are delighted that Mary-Rose has been recognised for her wonderful volunteer work. She has been a long standing volunteer for St Richard’s Hospice and has helped make a difference to many bereaved people in Worcestershire through her gentle care and support.”
She is also a founder member of the local Lindsay Leg Club Foundation, which formed in 2005 and delivers high quality lower limb care to people within social environment and a member of the Three Choirs Festival for more than 20 years.
St Richard’s Hospice provides free specialist palliative care for patients living with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses and supports their families. Each year the hospice team supports over 2,500 patients and family members in Worcestershire.
Patients are cared for in Day Hospice, the 17-bed In-patient Unit or in their own homes by a specialist professional team as well as many trained volunteers.
In the In-patient Unit, specialist staff are on hand 24 hours a day to manage patients’ symptoms and where, if appropriate, patients may spend the last few days of life in comfort and dignity. St Richard’s is an independent charity and is grateful for all donations to help it to continue its work.