Caring volunteers will work on Christmas Day to support Ashgate Hospice patients and families

Volunteers at Ashgate Hospice will be giving up their Christmas Day this year to help support patients and families.

By Gay Bolton
Wednesday, 22nd December 2021, 4:23 pm
Ward volunteer Andrea Jenner is humbled by seeing remarkable people at their best during the worst of times (photo: EKR Pictures/Ellie Rhodes)

Several members of the 600-strong volunteer team are putting their own celebrations aside to be there for patients who are facing their last Christmas with loved ones.

Andrea Jenner and Lesley Walton are among the Christmas Day volunteers.

Ward volunteer Andrea, who takes meal and drink orders and serves patients and families staying on the hospice’s inpatient unit, started volunteering in October 2008.

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Retired social worker Lesley Walton, who works on reception, says she is one of the Ashgate family (photo: EKR Pictures/Ellie Rhodes)

She said: “I have volunteered on Christmas Day for several years now. It's great to give something back at a time of giving; especially as for many people this will be their last Christmas together.

“Many relatives have their Christmas lunch with us, in the room with their loved one. Naturally, there have been changes due to Covid but the hospice still tries to make it as special as possible whilst ensuring everyone is as safe as they can be."

Andrea says volunteering at Ashgate for the last 13 years has taught her “what is really important in life.”

“I've always said that the hospice has done a great deal more for me than I have done for it,” added Andrea.

“Seeing remarkable people at their best during the worst of times is humbling and life affirming.

“I have met people who, as long as I have a memory, I will never forget. The staff are also amazing – they treat volunteers as valuable colleagues.”

Meanwhile, Lesley, a retired social worker, started volunteering at Ashgate after visiting her close friend on the inpatient unit and experiencing first-hand the “excellent” care she received.

On reception, she will be welcoming patients and their families as they arrive at the hospice and answering phone calls on Christmas Day.

Lesley, who joined the charity in 2007, said: “Families are meant to be together at Christmas and I am a member of the Ashgate family. In the absence of a family of my own I like to spend my time with my friends and colleagues at the hospice, whilst doing my bit to support my local community.

“I must admit – I’m definitely lured in by one of the hospice chef’s wonderful Christmas lunches which are lovingly made for patients, families, staff and volunteers. I always buy mine at the end of my shift and take it home with me!”

Over the past year, Ashgate inpatient unit volunteers have served more than 14,000 meals to patients on the hospice’s ward, whilst its reception volunteers have spent more than 1,700 hours welcoming visitors to the hospice.

Matt Corbishley, director of people and performance at Ashgate Hospice, added: “From our volunteer gardeners to those who help care for patients on our Inpatient Unit – we are so lucky to have over 600 volunteers at Ashgate who carry out a whole range of roles to support our care for patients and families.

“During the festive season our care doesn’t stop and neither does the dedication of our amazing volunteers.

“It’s thanks to people like Lesley and Andrea that we’re able to continue being there for the people who need us most.”

If you’re interested in volunteering at Ashgate Hospice you can find more about some of the roles available at www.ashgatehospice.org.uk/volunteering