Meet Graeme Walker, a retired Worcester man who recently started volunteering for St Richard’s.
Here Graeme, a former area sales manager for anchoring and fixing manufacturer Rawlplug Ltd, explains how the experience has changed his view of hospices.
‘My decision to volunteer at St Richard’s was a bit of a lightbulb moment. My wife Louise and I always go along to the Lights of Love event in the Cathedral at Christmas; over the years I don’t think I had even registered that it was in aid of the hospice as life was such a rush. But last year I had more time to think and more space to take things in as I had retired the previous March. It came to me suddenly that I was going to explore volunteering at the hospice.”
Once Graeme had made the decision to volunteer, things moved swiftly with application forms, references, security checks, interviews and an induction. He was still unsure about what he wanted to do in his role as a volunteer so was thrilled when talk of a facilities style job was mentioned.
Graeme explained: “Until I started volunteering at St Richard’s I had no idea there were so many roles. I assumed that all roles were community roles and based around helping patients. I was never sure that side of things was for me so was really pleased when the facilities role came up. I do whatever is needed, from grass cutting, putting up noticeboards and painting to taking blood to the hospital. I also feed the ducks and birds which I love!”
Graeme currently volunteers a day and a half a week which he may increase over the winter months. It’s an experience he is thoroughly enjoying.
“I assumed that hospices were places of death and that the atmosphere would be dreary. But I honestly couldn’t have been further from the truth. There is such a sense of ease and happiness and everybody is so friendly and open. I remember chatting to a man just after I had finished cutting the grass one day. He told me that his wife had just been transferred here. He was so open about it all and obviously felt as though there was no need to put a brave face on it. That’s the thing about the hospice – it allows people to just be themselves.”
So what are Graeme’s thoughts on the benefits of volunteering?
“I find volunteering at the hospice so fulfilling. I had never volunteered before in my life so was unsure what to expect. There are so many opportunities and any age can volunteer. Not only does it benefit the hospice, it most definitely benefits me. When I was working I used to bring my stress home with me but not anymore. My wife still works full time and travels quite a lot; there’s a huge difference in our days now. I am always positive about mine!”
Graeme concluded : “For me the hospice is not, as I once thought, about dealing with death. It is definitely about dealing with life.”