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Southend Hospital says ‘thank you’ to all its volunteers

09 June 2017


More than 170 volunteers at Southend Hospital were thanked for all their hard work at the Volunteer Achievement Awards on Wednesday 7 June at Saxon Hall, Southend.

It's the fourth year the awards have been held, which honours both long-standing volunteers nominated by their managers and the contribution of relative newcomers who have gone that extra mile. Awards were handed out by Southend's Chairman Alan Tobias and Managing Director Yvonne Blücher.

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

Yvonne Blücher, added: "We are blessed with an ever-increasing number of volunteers - around 500 at the last count. In January we started recruiting volunteers to help patients waiting to be discharged from hospital.

"And we have also taken on more dementia befrienders in order to help on our care of the elderly wards and in our newly opened day rooms on Windsor and Princess Anne wards. Our volunteers are all very much appreciated for all the hours that they give." 

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Volunteer Achievement Award Winners 2017

Lifetime Achievement Award - Linda Ansell and Maureen Townley

The Thorpe Bay twosome started in the mid-1980s selling bric-a-brac and knitted goods from a stall, raising hundreds of thousands of pounds over the years.

In 2009 they both received an MBE for their services to charity. And Maureen didn't even let a broken hip slow her down last year!

Chairman's Award - Dianne Woodley

Dianne, 67, works with patients with alcohol-related problems on Eleanor Hobbs ward, supporting patients not only in hospital but, following their discharge, arranging to meet them and taking them to meetings.

Deputy Ward Manager Julie Bush said: "We truly believe Dianne has saved the lives of many patients when all else has failed."

The Joyce Long Fundraising Achievement Award - Joan Clayton

Joan, 63 from Benfleet, has played an invaluable part in the birth of our successful charity shops in Westcliff and Leigh.

She has dedicated countless hours sourcing stock and picking up furniture. Her knowledge of antiques and furniture, as well as a natural salesmanship and drive, has help contributed to the tens of thousands of pounds both shops have raised for the hospital.

Joan is a worthy recipient of this award, named in honour of charity champ Joyce, who sadly died in December 2015 after raising more than £1.2 million for the hospital.

Most Inspirational Award - Pets as Therapy volunteer Claire Dean and her dog, Rolo

Lauded by staff on the stroke ward, Neptune children's unit, and Elizabeth Loury (cancer) ward, the therapy provided by Claire, 53, from Thorpe Bay, and her springer spaniel/poodle cross Rolo, a 'Sproodle' aged 4, are now incorporated into some clinical care plans.

On the stroke ward, the duo help in rehabilitation sessions with patients who find it difficult to engage in rehab in a traditional way and also cheer up poorly youngsters on Neptune.

Play Specialist, Lisa Kawa-Akenbo, said: "Rolo has become an unofficial ward mascot!  We look forward to their visits as we see how much it benefits our patients."

Unsung Hero Award - Gary Rushman

Gary, 36, from Shoebury, works in the medical records department and has been a member of Southend Hospital Radio since 2010, where he presents two shows a week and goes onto wards to chat to patients and to gather song requests for his show.

Happy to Help Award - Peter Robinson

Peter, from Westcliff, may be 83, but he clocks up miles every week along hospital corridors, helping the Patient Experience Team two days a week by handing out and collecting survey postcards. Feedback from patients and their families form an invaluable part of helping the hospital to improve its services.

Personal Challenge Award - Valerie Hand and Sarah Baker

Valerie and Sarah provide admin support to the oncology office team and are inspirational having overcome major health challenges.

Val, 57, from Rayleigh, spent six weeks in a coma back in 2009, which left her with short and long term memory loss. She spent a year in various London hospitals learning to walk and talk.

Val began volunteering at the hospital five years ago, but she was then diagnosed with two forms of cancer. She hasn't let this defeat her. Manager, Glenda Booth, said: "She is always reliable, witty with a sharp sense of humour and volunteers on a regular basis,"

Sarah, 61, from Shoebury, is profoundly deaf, and went through the agony of applying and being rejected from countless jobs, after being deemed as fit to work by the Job Centre after the 2010 benefits overhaul.

Glenda said: "Sarah is absolutely lovely to work with, always cheerful, very capable and a great support. I feel very fortunate to have a volunteer who is so flexible and willing to 'work outside the box."

Volunteer Teams

Charity shops, Leigh and Westcliff

Southend Hospital's two charity shops, in Hamlet Court Road, Westcliff and Broadway West, Leigh, raise tens of thousands of pounds a year for the hospital. They are open six days a week and manned by 30 volunteers.

Lucy Thomas-Clayton, Associate Director of Fundraising, said: "None of it would have been possible without the patience, good nature and time given up by our magnificent teams."

Macmillan Information and Support Centre

The centre, based near main outpatients, has been open for more than three years and has 32 volunteers; all play an integral part at the centre.

They offer a variety of services, providing a welcome, information and support, both at the centre and in the chemotherapy and radiotherapy units. Volunteers qualified in meditation, seated yoga, and complementary therapies such as acupuncture also lead sessions for patients and families. Some even bake cakes and provide IT skills and arrange courses.

Friederike Englund, Macmillan Information Manager, said: "Our volunteers are actively involved in service development but above all they provide empathetic skilled general support, assisting a user to tell their story, help them find a voice and discover where they are at."

Long Service Awards

General hospital volunteerscelebrating more than a decade of volunteering

Carecars driversAlan Watkinson, 73, from Hawkwell, andBrenda Dowton, 67, from Leigh, who drive patients to and from hospital appointments. Brenda also volunteers on the Cardigan Wing information desk taking bookings.

Anthony Burton, 80, from Westcliff, a Renal and Chemotherapy Unit driver. A former driver with the ambulance service, Tony works Saturdays and evenings for the two units and draws up the rota for other drivers.

Outpatients volunteersRussell Gunn,70, from Shoebury,Dennis Childs76, from Hadleigh, andBeryl Thompson,77, from Southend, are often the first point of contact for patients using our busy outpatient department.

Hospital Library volunteerSheila Cleary, 71, from Leigh, was one of the founder members of the hospital mobile library service, which runs three mornings a week taking good-quality paperbacks around the wards.

Sheila Edwards, 81, from Shoebury, has been a ward help on Shopland ward for 14 years, and is adored by staff there, who comment on her cheeriness and willingness to help in any way she can.

Ian Barker, 56, from Shoebury, is a former caterer who became a volunteer gardener before transferring to the medical records department, where he delivers notes and some post.

Gillian Stock, 74, from Rayleigh, in Essex, has been a stalwart admin help in the Chemotherapy Unit for the last 10 years and is described by colleagues as 'always taking the time to speak to patients as well as the arduous task of filing'.

Diane Paisley,73, from Southend, has been a clerk in Elective Admissions for the past 14 years, making up packs for patients and even making staff a cuppa.

Chaplaincy volunteers

These eight volunteers have clocked up a whopping 128 years' service between them, with one, Margaret Allen, 77, from Hullbridge, a volunteer for 37 years. David Childs, Hospital Chaplain said: "The team really go the extra mile - their commitment to what they do is quite humbling."

Gordon Bates, 83, from Thundersley,18 years;

Colin Burwell, 72, from Leigh, 10 years;

Gillian Cotter, 68, from Southend, 20 years;

Pamela Gaines, 66, from Benfleet,18 years;

Margaret Holland, 79, from Leigh, 15 years;

Keith McCullough, 86, from Leigh, 18 years;

Patricia Rayment, 73, from Benfleet, 10 years.