Shirley’s story

Shirley has volunteered with us for 20 years on reception, at fundraising events and in our shops. She reflects on what volunteering at St Ann's over the years means to her.

I can remember exactly when I started as a volunteer on reception. It was May 2000, I was still working full time but volunteered alternate Saturdays 12-2pm.

Volunteering means quite a lot to me. I enjoy meeting people and giving something back, especially to such a much-appreciated organisation. Sadly, I’ve had to put my other hat on as a visitor to friends over the years, but their relatives could not have been more appreciative and had high regard for all that the staff had done for their loved ones.

I’ve often seen the relief on the faces of staff when “the cavalry arrives” to be on reception. I know that reception cover is much appreciated, even at weekends, and it gives me a nice feeling.

Over the 20 years, I’ve also volunteered in the coffee shop, helped at the Turves Road shop, bucket collected at Manchester City and Morrisons, helped at the Carol Concert at Bridgewater Hall and the Summer Fair a couple of times. When you get thinking about what else you’ve done, it all mounts up! I also helped knit forget-me-nots that we sold, which some people may still have, and I recall we raised quite a bit.

A special memory

One special moment I recall from years ago was one Friday, before my Saturday shift, when a very poorly patient proposed to his long-standing partner. When I arrived at 12pm for my shift, their wedding was about to take place. Staff had pulled out all the stops and everything down to guests was in place – all in less than 24 hours. I chatted to the bride, and when the nurses wheeled the patient past reception in his bed and paused to take a flower from a vase to put on him as a button hole. It was a shift where I “had a moment”, and it comes to my mind from time to time.

Looking to the future

During lockdown, I’ve managed to still do a bit to support the hospice. I contributed some crochet ear savers for the staff, and I’ve been keeping busy gardening, reading and doing indoor zumba and pilates (in full gym kit). I even managed a fringe cut, with my husband’s help!

I’ve done nothing other than voluntary work for St Ann’s Hospice and wouldn’t have it any other way. In fact, if I had to be paid for what I do, it would go straight back into the donation cube. Health permitting, I hope to continue volunteering for a good few more years.

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Whether you have a couple of hours a week to spare or a couple of days, every single bit of support makes a difference to our patients and their families.

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