13th February 2015

Volunteers Recognised with Awards

The dedication and skills of four committed St Richard’s Hospice volunteers has been recognised with Community Recognition Awards.

The awards, co-ordinated by Wychavon District Council, are in recognition of for their efforts in helping to make Wychavon a better place to live and work.

At the ceremony, held at Peopleton Village Hall on Wednesday 11th February, Sylvia and Arthur Whittaker received the joint Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of the invaluable contribution they make to caring for St Richard’s Hospice patients with life-threatening illnesses and supporting their loved ones.

The couple, from Droitwich, have supported the hospice for many years, volunteering their time and energy to patient care and fundraising activities.

Sylvia has been a St Richard’s volunteer since 1996 and helps the hospice in a wide variety of roles, including helping to care for patients attending Day Hospice, working on the busy hospice Reception and helping to maintain the beautiful serene gardens. She also volunteers in the Droitwich St Richard’s shop and organises many fundraising events and lunches within the Droitwich area to help support the hospice.

Arthur joined the St Richard’s team as a Volunteer Driver in 2002 following his retirement.  He is a committed driver of our minibus that brings patients into Day Hospice throughout the week – an invaluable service for patients that have no transport.  He also helps cover our busy reception and supports Sylvia with fundraising within the Droitwich area.

Mrs Whittaker said; “My mum died from cancer almost 23 years ago.  She had been referred to St Richard’s Hospice by her GP. She was given lots of care and support which helped her cope at a very distressing time. As a family we also received support which was important to us to help mum too. Four years after losing my mum, I decided to become a volunteer. It was the best thing I ever did, and was pleased when my husband Arthur retired and also decided to become a volunteer.

“We both feel privileged as volunteers to support the dedicated staff at St Richard’s Hospice. We never cease to admire the professional way in which they carry out the care of patients with life threatening illnesses and give support to their families. Being a volunteer is very rewarding in many ways. In Day Hospice we have great fun and it is so rewarding to see the patients enjoying their day and being able to talk to someone other than a family member, as sometimes this can be difficult for them.

“It was a great privilege to receive the award, and to know that volunteering can be so rewarding. It is also an opportunity to make new friends, and we have made many of those.  For anyone who is perhaps retiring and would like to do something worthwhile with their time, please get involved with St Richard’s Hospice, there is something for everyone, and you can do as much or as little as your time allows.”

Francis Smith from Evesham and Colum MacCourt from Droitwich were also shortlisted for volunteer awards and were congratulated on their volunteering achievements and important roles that they play within the hospice and local community.

Francis Smith has been a St Richard’s volunteer for over 10 years, offering invaluable support to patients and their loved ones. He is often to be found keeping the hospice Reception running smoothly, ensuring that anyone entering the hospice receives a warm and friendly welcome, even on Bank Holidays.  A very empathetic person, Francis manages delicate situations in a sensitive and caring way and has frequently been a welcome support to family members in distress. He also donates his time to help out in Day Hospice, helping to support patients coming in for treatment, and is often found within the community helping out with fundraising activities.

Colum MacCourt has been a dedicated member of the hospice’s volunteer team since 2008. He donates his time and skills as a chaplain, working alongside the doctors and nurses to support patients and their loved ones with their spiritual needs. He works with those attending Day Hospice, within the In-patient Unit and visits patients in the community.

He also helps the hospice to care for patients and their families in many other ways; acting as Chair of the Day Hospice Volunteer Forum, driving Day Hospice patients to and from the hospice, supporting patients with day to day activities in their own homes and helping out on the hospice’s busy reception areas. He is an active ambassador for the volunteer team and is often found in the community helping out with fundraising activities.

Anna Wharrier, Volunteer Services Co-ordinator at St Richard’s Hospice, said: “Sylvia and Arthur have offered so much invaluable support over the years and this award is a just recognition of the dedication, skills and time they have brought to St Richard’s. We are also delighted that Francis and Colum were shortlisted for special commendation. Over 1,000 volunteers bring their life skills and experience to St Richard’s Hospice, supporting every aspect of hospice life from patient care and administration, to fundraising and shops. Their contribution is very much appreciated and makes a real difference to patients and their loved ones.”

Photo: L:R – Anna Wharrier, Colum MacCourt, Maureen Lomax, Sylvia Whittaker, Arthur Whittaker, June Patel, Francis Smith and Margaret Stokes. (Photograph courtesy of Wychavon District Council)