29th November 2017

Long-serving hospice volunteer retires

A dedicated volunteer from Worcester has retired after more than 30 years supporting the work of St Richard’s Hospice.

Mary-Rose Fawkes, aged 79, retired in November after spending decades working to support bereaved people with the charity’s Family Support Team.

She began her career as a trainee nurse at St Thomas’ Hospital in London during the late 1950s, where she worked alongside Dame Cicely Saunders – founder of the modern hospice movement.

“I was one of the people who said she would never get the hospice movement off the ground,” remembered Mrs Fawkes. “I hope she forgave me!

“She knew what she wanted, she was very kind, a marvellous listener – she was very sweet to me.”

After her time in London, Mrs Fawkes continued her nursing career in Portsmouth before moving to Southwell in Nottinghamshire where she was a member of the fundraising committee for Cancer Research UK.

She moved to Worcester in 1985 and almost immediately became involved with St Richard’s Hospice, volunteering for the charity at its first base in Castle Street.

“It was so different – we had people come in for the day and did what we could for them,” said the mother-of-two. “We gave them a meal and cheered them up. It was very small, very friendly and intimate.”

In 1991, her volunteering moved with the hospice to its new base at Rose Hill, in Worcester, and she became involved with its bereavement service – undergoing training so she could support people in their own homes.

“I always wanted to help people who had lost relatives or friends, as I was helped by a wonderful nanny I had when my parents died,” she explained.

Mary-Rose with Head of Family Support, Sarah Popplestone-Helm

Mary-Rose with Head of Family Support, Sarah Popplestone-Helm

She continued in the role of bereavement visitor until she retired earlier this month, clocking up more than 30 years’ voluntary service for St Richard’s.

“I have loved my time at St Richard’s. I have found it so fulfilling to see people finding it easier to accept their bereavement and learning to live their new life.

“I think it is absolutely fantastic what they do at St Richard’s. It is a lovely place to be involved with. It has been wonderful.”

In 2015, Mrs Fawkes was awarded the British Empire Medal in recognition of her decades of voluntary work in the community.

Sarah Popplestone-Helm, Head of Family Support, said: “Mary Rose has been a wonderful volunteer over many years.

“She has supported countless patients and their families at what can be the most difficult time of their lives. We will truly miss her wisdom, kindness and sense of fun.”