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Thoroughly good volunteer innings for John who ‘retires’ at 91

23 April 2019


Southend Hospital volunteer John Thorogood has retired after 30 years of service – at the grand old age of 91.

Staff across three departments turned up for an afternoon tea to say farewell to a much-loved colleague, described by one as 'the most wonderful gentleman'.

The former Westcliff High School for Boys teacher started his second career when computers were in their infancy. He began volunteering in the hospital's medical records department in May 1989, at a time where labels for folders containing patient notes were written out by hand.

From there he transferred to Castle Point Ward, following the team as the ward became first Kitty Hubbard and then Stambridge Ward. His role was to run errands and records across the hospital.

He would unfailingly arrive by bus from his Leigh home three mornings a week, until his failing eyesight meant the role became problematic.

John said: "Volunteering has given me a lot, a sense of purpose, and I have enjoyed every minute."

Paying tribute, Stambridge ward manager Julie Londesborough, who has known and worked with John for more than 20 years, said: "John is a lovely, lovely man and we can't thank him enough for all he has done for us."

Staff from medical records, clinical coding, and Stambridge ward clubbed together to present John and his wife Karin with theatre vouchers. Tessa Breakwell, a domestic who has known John 25 years, and is pictured with her hands on John's shoulders, said: "Although he can't see very well, he always knows exactly who you are by your voice. He is the most wonderful man."

Volunteering was of course not John's only interest. He and Karin, his wife of 63 years, set up and ran the popular Salvation Army charity shop off Broadway West for more than 33 years. And as well as having three children of their own, they also fostered two children, one of whom, Eileen Coley, works at the hospital as a rehab assistant.

John and Karin will not be strangers to the hospital, however. A couple of members of staff are planning to meet up with the couple for lunch, and he has an open invitation to pop in for a chat if he is passing.