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40 year anniversary for hospital volunteer

25 February 2014


Tomorrow sees Pearl Naylor celebrate her 40th year anniversary as a volunteer at Southend University Hospital.

Pearl, from Thorpe Bay, began her volunteering career at the Rochford Hospital site on 26 February 1974. She's since racked up 40 years' service helping patients and their families.

She's given her time to lots of different departments over the years. Pearl started volunteering on an elderly ward then went on to ferry patients to and from appointments using her own car.

Pearl spent a lot of time on the old stroke day care unit at the now defunct Balmoral Hospital. Pearl said: "Back in those days, volunteers were very 'hands on' with the patients. I used to help wash them and set their hair."

When the Southend Hospital sites merged about 20 years ago, Pearl suggested creating an information desk to help people find their way around the new buildings.

She's been helping out on that desk, in the old main entrance to the hospital, ever since. And her original idea spawned two further desks, one in the tower block outpatients department and the other in the Cardigan Wing.

Pearl now meets and greets patients; she guides them to the correct wards and clinics and answers any questions hospital visitors may have.

Pearl has also volunteered at Fair Havens Hospice, Westcliff, for more than 30 years. She also received an MBE in 2012 for services to the hospital and hospice and in 2009 a Badge of Honour given by the League of Mercy charity, as well as Hospital Honours, a special award given by Southend Hospital.

Jane O'Connell, hospital voluntary services manager, said: "Pearl is a massive asset to this hospital. She is old-school - always immaculately turned out, unfailingly courteous, kind and informative. She really cares about patients and their families. We are very lucky to have her."

Pearl believes there is a real necessity for volunteers in today's society. She said: "I love it, there is a need for it and while I'm able I will carry on volunteering. I find it very rewarding, long may it last."