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Andover hospital volunteers enjoy well deserved tea party

Volunteers raise a cuppa in Andover

The work done by the 500 volunteers across Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was celebrated during a series of tea parties.

The events, which were held to coincide with Volunteers’ Week 2018, took place at all three hospitals run by the Trust in Andover, Basingstoke and Winchester, with the hard-working volunteers enjoying a well-earned cup of tea and slice of cake.

Volunteers help to support both staff and patients a variety of ways, including driving patients to and from appointments, helping staff on wards, helping at mealtimes, talking to patients, answering phones, helping with back office functions and even recruiting and training new volunteers.

Each of the events was attended by special guest speaker, Alex Lewis, who delivered a heartfelt message about the importance of volunteering and the tremendous impact volunteers can have on patients.

Alex Lewis (right) talking with hospital chaplain Varkey Eappen (left)

In 2013, Alex was rushed to hospital in Winchester where it was discovered he had contracted Strep A, which took a sinister path to Strep A Toxic Shock Syndrome, Septicaemia and Necrotising Fasciitis. Resulting in quadruple amputation and requiring extensive skin grafts and facial reconstruction, Alex knows first-hand the positive difference volunteers can make to patient’s in hospital.

Alex said “It has been a privilege to meet so many fantastic volunteers across the three hospitals and to talk about the difference they can make. When I was in hospital, the support I received from the volunteers who kept me company and supported me at meal times made such a difference to my outlook. Their positivity gave me hope and spurred me on to keep getting better and to believe that there was still a positive life I could lead.”

I’ll always be thankful for all of the volunteers I spent time with whilst I was in hospital, at no point did I feel alone and there was always a friendly face to talk to and to confide in about things I couldn’t talk to anyone else about.”

Addressing the volunteers, Alex said “What you all do and what you give to both patients and staff is enormous. You are incredibly valued and I am sure if there were other patients here too, they would all say the same thing. On behalf of us all; thank you.”

Sally Wesley, 63, has volunteered on the antenatal clinic and maternity department at Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester for three years. Sally is there to greet the patients and fulfil vital admin support for the team.

Sally Wesley at the tea party in Winchester

She said “When I retired, I thought long and hard for six months about how I wanted to spend my time. I chose to volunteer for the hospital because both my children were born at Winchester Hospital, and performed a life-saving operation on my son when he was just five weeks old. I have always wanted to give something back and with a history of nurses and doctors in my family, this felt like the right opportunity for me.

The staff and patients are always so appreciative, you really feel like you are making a difference. I love working with people and I get so much out of volunteering, I hope to be doing it for a long time to come.”

Alex Whitfield, chief executive of Hampshire Hospitals, added “We are incredibly grateful for everything our volunteers do and it’s wonderful to recognise their efforts in this special way at part of Volunteers Week.

Chief executive Alex Whitfield (left) and chief nurse Donna Green (right) served tea and cake to wonderful volunteers across the Trust

They make a difference, not only to our patients, but to our staff as well, and it’s fantastic to have them as part of our team.

As we celebrate the NHS’ 70th birthday this year we are taking the time to think of the many achievements of the NHS and of Hampshire Hospitals. Our volunteers are such important members of our team and we couldn’t do what we do, without them.”

To find out more about volunteering opportunities at Hampshire Hospitals, visit http://www.hampshirehospitals.nhs.uk/work-with-us/volunteers-and-work-experience/about-volunteering.

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