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Hospital volunteers recognised

11 June 2015


Volunteers at Southend Hospital got a small but richly-deserved thank-you for all their hard work at an awards and buffet reception evening recently.

This year marked the second Volunteer Achievement Awards, an accolade which, as well as honouring long-standing volunteers nominated by their managers, also recognised the contribution of relative newcomers who have gone the extra mile.

The event, combined with a thank-you party for all volunteers, was held at the Saxon Hall, Aviation Way, Southend and was attended by hospital chairman Alan Tobias and chief executive Sue Hardy, who awarded the honours between them.

Mr Tobias told the assembled audience that he felt 'humbled' by their contribution. "You just cannot put a price on what you do - this hospital couldn't function without you," he added.

The hospital has over 450 volunteers who all provide priceless support to the hospital, helping patients, visitors and staff alike and more than 120 of them enjoyed a welcome drink, a buffet supper and quiz.

View photos from the evening here on the official Southend Hospital Facebook page.

Volunteer Achievement Award Winners

Best fundraising volunteer

Nicola Drabble, Leigh-on-Sea

Nikki was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003 and since then has been one of the most enduring fundraisers for our breast unit.

The 55-year-old mother-of-two has raised more than £10,000 for our Bosom Pals Appeal through her annual her Pink Summer Ball.

More than 100 guests attend this black tie event, held at Thorpe Bay Golf Club and now in its eighth year.

Over the past two years Nikki has also turned her formidable organisational abilities to helping to organise 'Southend Hospital's Got Talent' held at the Palace Theatre, Westcliff. This highly-popular talent show has so far helped raise more than £8,000 for the hospital's Accident and Emergency Department.

Nikki will be instrumental in the fourth Southend Hospital's Got Talent being held later this year, this time to help dementia patients at the hospital. She also recently organised a race night at the Saxon Hall which raised a significant sum for our memory clinic.

It has become a cause close to her heart; her late father-in-law suffered from Alzheimer's disease.

Best Newcomer Award

Doris Norwood, Benfleet

Doris was one of the first maternity unit volunteers recruited back in October 2012, and since then the 68 year oldhas acted as something of a mentor for many young volunteers looking to become midwives.

The role of a maternity unit volunteer is to sit at reception desk at the entrance to the maternity unit to answer the intercom, and then to meet, greet and direct women, partners and visitors to the correct destination.

Doris has a quiet and calming manner, is wonderful with anxious visitors and provides a great service on the staff's behalf, helping families find their way if they don't know where to go.

Nothing is too much trouble for Doris. She also assists with questionnaires and audits as part of her role which is a great help to the unit.

Feedback from visitors is so positive  - that it's nice to see a friendly face and to receive a warm welcome. She has also reported concerns so that appropriate action can be taken.

Happy to Help Award

Peter Zammitt, Benfleet  

After taking early retirement, Peter worked for several years as a voluntary driver with our Carecars scheme, running people to and from their hospital appointments and was very popular with patients. He is a kind and cheery chap, and if he can help, he will.

Last year he became part of the Pharmacy team, delivering samples rather than patients, and shuttles four days a week between Southend Hospital and Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford.

Such is his 'can do' attitude that he was recently asked by the renal unit to be the sole driver for a terminally ill young man undergoing dialysis. Peter, 60, now takes him home for treatment three times a week.

His kindness and willingness to help is well-known to us here at voluntary services and fundraising. He is always available if we need help picking items from our charity shop or chauffeuring a special guest to one of our fundraisers.

His last mission was to pick up and deliver our 6ft furry mascot costume - Buddy Bear, a little stale from many appearances at fundraising events and collections - to a specialist dry-cleaners for a thorough freshen-up.

Chairman's Award

Alan Willis, Leigh-on-Sea

Alan, 71, has been the Chair of the Audiology User Group for the past few years and has worked tirelessly to lead our group in aspiring to achieve service excellence.

He undertakes an enormous amount of unpaid work on the group's behalf, has liaised with voluntary bodies and charities such as Action on Hearing Loss (formerly the RNID) in joint working initiatives, has helped to forge greater relationships with allied services such as Essex Cares (the equipment arm of social services) in Essex, and the equivalent in the unitary borough of Southend.

Through these ventures the hospital has improved and integrated aspects of service provision for patients.

He has coordinated the (sometimes diverse) views of the group members and used this to achieve service improvements on a very practical level too. For example, he identified the need for extra hearing aid battery outlets, which the Audiology team were then able to organise.

"Alan is a consummate professional - he is most respectful of professional services and diplomatic in all his dealings with organizations, often checking with us first on his approach and actions. He is very much a model for team-working - from a patient involvement point of view," adds clinical lead Linda Grimmett.

Group Award, Friends and Family Team

The Friends and Family is a survey whose basic premise is to ascertain patient satisfaction with the hospital - and whether they would recommend the hospital to their friends and family.

This group of volunteers speak to patients about their experience and ask them to complete a friends and family postcard and pop it into a box on the ward.

Volunteers then later collect these responses from all wards, Outpatients and A&E. The information then forms part of the data the hospital uses to make service improvements.

Volunteers, who work on a rota basis, also phone patients about their experience and pass on important responses.

The group are a friendly face on the ward and have time to stop and chat to patients. A lot of them also clock up a fair few miles walking around the hospital!

Castle Point Ward Group Award, Feeding Buddies

Our team of Buddies are very attentive to meeting patient's needs - often going above and beyond their duty.  As with all Buddies, they perform a vital role in sitting down and spending time talking to patients, helping them to eat, chatting and making them feel at ease.

Castle Point ward Buddies recently came to a meeting outside their normal allocated times and helped the ward to discuss problems we were having with the catering service.  They are always happy and smiling and fit in with our busy ward.  They have made a huge difference to our patient meal times. 

Some members of the team are so good at what they do that they have become Feeding Buddy 'mentors' - volunteers who help to train new recruits. They are a committed bunch and thoroughly deserve recognition.

Team Award, Hospital Library Service

The library service was set up in 2009 and runs three mornings a week. It relies on donations of good-quality paperbacks which are cleaned before being sorted onto trolleys and taken to appropriate wards.

There is a whole selection of reads to pick from, catering to all tastes, but nothing too racy!

Always smiling and friendly, the team always go the extra mile by spending time talking and making patients feel as comfortable as possible. Patients look forward to their visits. They really are a great team and an asset to the hospital.

Long Service Awards

These are given to volunteers with ten or more years of serviceBetween them, the following group have more than 70 years dedicated service to the hospital

Norma Brown, 75, Southend

This glamorous great-grandmother has been an elegant fixture at the information desks at the old main entrance and at the Tower Block since joining us from the MIND charity shop in Leigh Broadway ten years ago.

Norma knows the hospital like the back of her hand and can frequently be found escorting patients to and from their clinics. She is a lively and chatty volunteer, who always has time for a kindly word with staff and patients alike

Pat McDonald, 79, Southend

Pat was inspired to volunteer at the hospital after seeing the care her late husband Peter received from our staff.  After a 22-year career putting together components for electrical company EK Cole, based in Priory Crescent, she then transferred to Access in the eight years before her retirement.

The grandmother-of-three joined the hospital in 2003 and has worked on the Tower Block information desk ever since. She is a popular member of the team and is kind and considerate, popular with her colleagues.

John Fowler, 67, Shoebury

John began working as a voluntary Carecars driver in 2004, and is well-known and liked by the hundreds of patients he has taken to and from the hospital over this time.

He is still a reliable and committed member of the Carecars team, and popular with his colleagues.

John is a passionate Southend United fan and is also a cricket buff, regularly travelling to Chelmsford to watch Essex in action.

Moira Bateman, 67, Thorpe Bay

Moira is an ever-smiling calm and capable member of the Tower Block outpatient volunteer team, who is immensely popular with her colleagues. She started her volunteering career back in 1992, working on what was then the WRVS trolley service. She left after four years to get a job, but returned in 2002 to the information desk.

She now helps check patients in at the self-service kiosks and provides words of comfort and reassurance at all times.

Djanet Cheshire, 81, Quorn Gardens

Djanet - pronounced Janet - joined the hospital in 2003 after a long career working as a community dental services manager. She began volunteering in the outpatients department where she helped escort patients to their appointments. A year later she transferred to our Accident and Emergency Department, running errands and helping out staff.

After seven years she moved once more - this time to the information desk in the Prittlewell Wing. Always cheery and often feisty, she has now enlisted her husband Malcolm to the hospital cause - for the last two years he has helped out at our Leigh charity shop!

Lifetime Achievement Award

John Gibson, Westcliff

Since 1992, John's charity, the Advanced Surgical Equipment Trust (ASET) has helped re-equip our theatres, critical care and high dependency units and has since provided the latest cutting-edge equipment for virtually every area of the hospital including stroke, physiotherapy, rheumatology and research and development.

Funds are raised through John and his colleagues going out and giving talks to clubs and associations as well as street collections. Over the years John has tirelessly addressed many hundreds of organisations with fervour and passion.

John was made an MBE in the 1995 New Year's Honours for services to the community. Despite handing over the chairmanship of ASET to long-standing friend and colleague, former hospital chairman John Bruce, he still intends to remain very heavily involved with the technological and purchasing side of ASET.

He admits to gaining huge satisfaction from funding and seeing installed the most up-to-date medical and surgical equipment which he believes gives confidence to patients coming into Southend University Hospital and their families.

We are greatly indebted to John's many years of energetic and dedicated work to provide our hospital with so much cutting-edge equipment and are delighted to present him with this extremely well-deserved lifetime's achievement award.