30 Years of Valuable Volunteers

At Rennie Grove Hospice Care we are lucky to have more than 1,500 volunteers who save the charity £1.5 million each year. Our volunteers cover a range of areas, from helping in our shops to volunteering as counsellors and giving their time to help in day hospice. We are also lucky to have a diverse section of people who range in age from teenagers to our most senior volunteers who are in their nineties.

We speak to volunteers from every decade to find out why they give their time to help Rennie Grove Hospice Care and what they get out of their experience.

Sam at the Jingle Bell JogSam Evans, 16, of Buckland, Aylesbury, started volunteering with Rennie Grove about five years ago with the events team.

My first event was the Jingle Bell Jog and I didn't realise quite how fun it was going to be. I now attend as many events as I can. The thing I like most about being a volunteer is the fact that you are given a role of responsibility which gives you the freedom to make important decisions and I feel I have matured a lot since. I also like meeting the many people who take part in the events and the Rennie Grove staff are always great fun to work with and always look after me.

"My grandma and a very close relative were both cared for by the Rennie Grove nurses, so it feels good to help. I think everyone should volunteer. Its great fun and very rewarding. Everyone in the organisation is lovely and makes you feel as if you’re making a difference by helping.

"Even if you haven't had a connection with the charity, you never know what may happen in the future. It is always nice to support something that, in this day and age, many people can relate to. You can support the charity, by taking part in events or volunteering, so that the charity can support you back. Having had experience of the wonderful work that the nurses do, I know how invaluable their care and support really is."

Louise TaylorLouise Taylor, 22, of St Albans has been volunteering with Rennie Grove Hospice Care since October 2014.

I volunteer in the Day Hospice where I talk to patients and make teas and coffees. I also volunteer in the fundraising office where I help with organising community fundraising events as well as admin tasks.

"I decided to volunteer as I am currently on a gap year before I go on to study Medicine in the autumn and I really wanted to use this time for something worthwhile. I was inspired to volunteer by the excellent reputation of the charity and the death of my mother from cancer in my teens which made me appreciate the support that patients and families with long-term illnesses can need.

"At the moment I volunteer once or twice a week and I really enjoy it. I like spending time with the patients, volunteers and staff who are all such lovely people to be around!

"To anyone thinking of volunteering I would strongly encourage them to give it a go; there is a role for everyone at the charity. Volunteering here will transform any preconceptions that you might have about what “hospice care” means - it is an incredibly positive place to be. This is a crucial and very special community charity which benefits so many patients and families. Unlike some larger charities, proceeds given to Rennie Grove Hospice Care have a direct and vital impact on the lives of members of our local community, and indeed this impact cannot be given a price."

Elizabeth Baldwin, 31, of St Albans, started volunteering with Rennie Grove in January 2015 as an onlinecommunications assistant.

"I had the desire to get more involved in the community and have adult interaction while my kids are in nursery school. I now volunteer once a week and really enjoy being part of something outside the home. It’s good to be back in an office, and it’s great to be part of a team working for a cause that helps so many individuals.

"Everyone involved in the charity has been really welcoming, If you have time to spare give them a call and see where you might fit in. Think about the support you would like if you were diagnosed with a life limiting illness. If what you would want is what they provide, support them now so they are there if you or someone you know needs them."

Edward CrossleyEdward Crossley, 40, lives in Amersham and started volunteering with Rennie Grove back in 1995 as a street collector in Beaconsfield.

I now volunteer in the Little Chalfont shop one afternoon a week as a sales assistant. I also volunteer for the big events as a marshal which is good fun.

"I decided to start volunteering as I had some spare time and wanted to meet new people and help a local charity. The thing I like most is that you get to meet new people at events, support a good cause and you get a nice note after the big events saying thank you.

"If you are thinking of volunteering then do it, it is an excellent idea, enables you to meet lots of people and you also know that you are contributing to Rennie Grove. The charity is a wonderful cause and very important to the local community, both for the hospice and nursing care in the home."

Alison BickertonAlison Bickerton, 59, celebrated 20 years of volunteering with Rennie Grove Hospice Care in September 2014. Alison, who lives in Tring, did her first shift at the charity shop in Tring on 8 September 1994 and she has been volunteering in various roles ever since.

I started in the shop, and the following year I also helped sell Christmas cards at the Court House in Berkhamsted and I have now enjoyed that every year apart from one where I helped at a book sale instead! I now volunteer once a fortnight for half a day at the charity shop in Tring and I am happy for them to call me if they need help at other times. If I am free I am always glad to lend a hand.

"I like volunteering at the shop as I am a real people person and I love talking to customers. I have really got to know some of the regulars over the years and it is always nice to see them. I also find the work really interesting as the charity keeps us informed about what they do and I love finding out new things.

"The annual volunteers’ party is also really good fun and it is nice that the work of the volunteers is recognised. It makes us feel that what we do is appreciated and helps us to see how our work contributes to the charity overall.

"I would say to anyone with a few hours to spare that it is definitely worth volunteering, go for it and you will make lots of friends, learn new things and even have fun!"

Barbara Grosvenor, 66, of Wheathampstead started volunteering with Rennie Grove Hospice Care in October 2003. She helps at the Southdown charity shop and Grove House day hospice.

"I retired early from my job and wanted to do something useful with my time and to get out and meet people. I now volunteer at the shop every Saturday afternoon in the shop and as a qualified yoga teacher I take six week courses in yoga at the day hospice three times per year.

"My father, who had cancer, attended Grove House for two years from 2003 to 2005 up to the time he died. He loved it there. He made a lot of friends and was cared for wonderfully well. As his carer, I was cared for too.

"I like to think I am giving something back by helping people and I like the social aspect of volunteering - getting out and meeting so many nice people. I also like the flexibility of working too. If you are thinking about volunteering I say ‘Go for it’, it’s great fun!

"Government funding for this service is almost non-existent so charity donations are vital to the survival of the hospices. We never know when we or members of our families will need this unique and caring service. As individuals we must do whatever we can for it to keep going forward."

David ColesDavid Coles, 72, of High Wycombe started volunteering for the charity about eight years ago after the death of his wife Anne. He now volunteers in fundraising and helps with events as well as spending time as a bereavement volunteer for the last 18 months.

Originally I volunteered at the hospital where Anne worked and liked it very much so decided to do more at Iain Rennie.

"It really varies how much time I give and can range from several times a week to once every few weeks depending on the time of year. I love volunteering and have made many friends, it has now become my social life. The staff and volunteers have a shared passion for the charity and a huge amount of dedication.

"I have done things I would never have done otherwise including trekking in the Himalayas, skydiving, dragon boat racing and a loop the loop in a glider. If I hadn’t of volunteered I would never have done this. I certainly get out of it more than I put in and I love the people I meet, from staff to members of the public at events. I love talking to people and listening.

"The family support role has taught me to listen better. It is a real honour and a privilege to talk to people.

"If you are thinking of volunteering then just give it a go, there are loads of different roles, so you are bound to find something that will interest you and you will find rewarding. For me it has been life changing as well as life-saving after my wife died. Volunteering helps ensure that people get the choice to be cared for where they want. You also never know what you might need in the future, we are so lucky to have this service and we need to preserve it."

Stephanie Thompson, 81, Cheddington, started volunteering in 1994. She is now based at the Tring office where she works on reception every Friday.

"I really enjoy my involvement with the charity and the contact I have with as cross-section of people who have different ages, experiences and skills. It is also an opportunity for me to develop new skills and practice them. Sometimes volunteering gives me a reason to get up! I also get satisfaction of contributing to a fantastic organisation.

"If you would like to volunteer then do it, there really is something for everyone. You will be valued and involved."

Harry KaneHarry Kane, 93 of St Albans started volunteering at Grove House not long after the charity started and sadly passed away recently.  Last year, he shared his story with us:

"I started out as a volunteer driver and would pick people up from their homes and take them to Grove House. When I turned 80 I had to stop that due to insurance so I started volunteering in the hospitals and would tell people all about Grove House and encourage them to use the services it offers. I became a volunteer as I just wanted to give something back, usually I helped one day a week.

"Helping at Grove House fitted perfectly for me, it is a great team of people to work with and I have always enjoyed it and meeting so many different people. If you want to become a volunteer go for it as you will be amazed at what you gain. It helps put some of your own problems into perspective too.

"Someone in your family might need to use the services at some time in their life so we need to ensure the charity continues and is able to go on giving the care that it does."

Could you volunteer to help us out? We currently have approximately 1,500 volunteers who save us around £1.5 million every year. Find out more here.