A dedicated volunteer who has spent almost four decades serving a local hospice, has been honoured with a prestigious award.
Clare Norton, from St John’s in Worcester, has been nominated by St Richard’s Hospice to receive the accolade – which is titled Badge of the Order of Mercy – and will collect it at a special ceremony held at The Mansion House in London.
The award recognises the work of volunteers who have spent at least seven years working to support others, including those living with a life limiting illness. Only 50 medals are awarded to volunteers from around the country each year.
Mrs Norton was a founder Governor of St Richard’s Hospice and has been a dedicated volunteer for the charity since it opened its doors in 1984. Since then, Clare has worked in a variety of roles, including volunteering in the Day Hospice, providing complementary therapies, creative therapies, transporting patients, volunteering within the community and fundraising.
Clare said : “It has been a privilege and very rewarding volunteering for St Richard’s Hospice; playing a small part in its growth from the beginning in Jenny Bulman’s back kitchen to the fine building we have today and with its ever expanding influence and contribution to society. I have gained so much from being a volunteer and met many wonderful people; patients, staff and volunteers. The hospice movement has been a significant part of my life and it is a huge honour to receive the League of Honour award.”
Clare trained as a nurse in Birmingham at a time when staff were not allowed to mention the word ‘cancer’ or acknowledge that a patient was living with life limiting illness. This developed her passion for end of life care and she went on to train in specialist palliative care in London. Whilst training, Clare worked at both St Christopher’s and St Joseph’s Hospices on the wards but mostly in homecare. For much of this time she worked in the East London boroughs providing end of life care within patients’ homes.
By 1984 Clare had moved to Worcestershire with her husband and they became aware of the plan to start a hospice in the county. Clare was involved in the planning and preparation stages and was one of the few people present at the first planning meeting who had extensive experience of hospice care. St Richard’s initially opened as a ‘Hospice at Home’ community based service from the Droitwich home of Dr Jenny Bulman and Clare took the role of volunteer nurse in the early days. The hospice soon acquired premises in a small terraced house in Worcester and opened its Day Hospice services in 1988. Clare continued to volunteer in both the new Day Hospice and community.
In the 1990s, Clare went on to train as a complementary therapist and used her skills to provide aromatherapy and massage treatments to Day Hospice patients from 1998 until 2012. She also served as Chairman of Governors and was instrumental in the move to new premises at Rose Hill which was opened by Diana Princess of Wales in 1992.
Clare continues to volunteer until this day.
June Patel, Chief Executive of St Richard’s Hospice, said: “We are humbled and honoured that Clare has received such recognition from the League of Mercy Foundation. She has given almost 38 years of continuous and devoted service to patients and their families facing life limiting illnesses in Worcestershire. She is an outstanding ambassador of hospice care and her dedication and service to St Richard’s over four decades is truly exceptional. Thank you Clare and for all those who give their time freely.”
To become a hospice volunteer call the HR and Volunteers department on 01905 763963 or visit www.strichards.org.uk/volunteering