Sue and Vida celebrate 20 terrific years!

To mark Volunteers' week and celebrate the difference our Bolton Hospice volunteers make, Margaret Brabbin our Volunteer Co-ordinator has sent out over 130 long service awards, including certificates and special pins to all those volunteers reaching a milestone - ranging from 5 to 25 years with us here at the hospice.

Bereavement Support volunteer Sue McKellen and volunteer Florist Vida Sharples both celebrate 20 years at Bolton Hospice this Volunteers' Week and kindly shared their stories with us.


Volunteers Week - A time to say thanks


Sue McKellen's story

Volunteer Sue McKellen

"Twenty Years have flown by! I was lucky enough to be able to stop working at the age of 50! With the new found spare time, I volunteered to help at the Hospice and I also became a local magistrate.

A couple of evenings a week I became a ‘trolley dolly’ on the ward, delivering drinks to patients and their families and of course chatting to them. About two years later, Stephen, the then Chaplain, asked if I would like to train to become a bereavement supporter. During the training, I met and joined Sue, who has become a real good friend and together we ran the Monday afternoon bereavement support group.  

The group grew over the years and we worked with the various Chaplains and lots of great family members who have been supported by the hospice or Hospice at Home team. The group provides a safe environment for people to talk about their experiences and feelings; how they deal with situations and how they have gained wonderful support from fellow group members. Sometimes, it is more appropriate to chat on a one to one basis.  

The pandemic has brought new challenges and as we have been unable to visit the hospice, support has been offered over the phone.

Apart from the bereavement support, I have taken part in every one of the hospice’s ‘Memories Walks’, even though my time gets a little longer each time and last year I was joined by my granddaughter to do the socially distanced walk!

I can honestly say that I love every minute of volunteering at the hospice and it has enabled me to meet (and hopefully help) some really great and amazing people."


Vida Sharples' Story

Volunteer arranging flowers

Vida is a volunteer florist and is one of 'The Flower Ladies' as they are lovingly known here at the hospice. Vida and her fellow florist volunteers are all members of three flower clubs in Bolton; Bolton, Horwich and Harwood - which Vida personally leads. The volunteer florists traditionally would come in every week to arrange flowers that have been kindly donated, to help make all areas of the hospice look welcoming for our patients and visitors. Our volunteers also arrange flowers that visitors have thoughtfully gifted for patients, and before the pandemic they would be beautifully displayed in patients’ rooms.

Unfortunately due to the pandemic our volunteer florists have not volunteered at the hospice since March 2020 and sadly there is no current sign of bringing them back, however we can't wait for them to return and see their fantastic floral displays across the hospice again.

“It has come as some surprise to me to learn that I have been volunteering at the hospice for 20 years!  Initially, it was my love of flowers that prompted me to get involved, but it was also a way of contributing to the valuable work that the hospice offers to the people of Bolton.

We all have a general understanding of the scope of the work of the hospice, but it is only with direct contact that I have come to realise how extensive that scope is. The day-to-day work and services provided are so vast that it takes an army of dedicated volunteers to assist the staff in this vital task - and I am happy to have been able to play a tiny part over that last 20 years!”

You can see more of the wonderful volunteer stories we have shared this Volunteer's Week on our Facebook and Twitter