St Clare celebrates Volunteers’ Week 2019

Published on: Thursday 20 Jun 2019 at 11:43

Thank you SO much to all of our incredible volunteers!

Volunteers’ Week was resounding success at St Clare Hospice on 1st – 7th June 2019. Hospice and shop managers organised their own special events to thank their volunteers, with dozens of events taking place during the course of the week. Additionally, numerous volunteers shared their own experiences of volunteering as part of the week’s celebrations.

St Clare Hospice is so fortunate to have the support of so many volunteers from across our local community. More than 550 people who regularly volunteer with us, in addition to the 200 people who helped us on a one off basis last year. Our volunteers fulfil over 30 different roles across St Clare departments and donate a combined total of around 100,000 hours per year.

Rob Wallace, Volunteer Manager at St Clare Hospice, said: “Volunteers’ week is a time each year when we try and pause from the day-to-day goings on at the Hospice, and make sure we acknowledge the wonderful volunteers we are so lucky to have here at St Clare.”

Rob decorated display boards around the Hospice and distributed posters to the shops to display as part of Volunteers’ Week. “I’d personally like to take the opportunity to thank all our volunteers for the contribution you make – every hour you donate to us makes a difference. We simply couldn’t do what we do without the support of our volunteers.

“St Clare is incredibly lucky to have an extremely loyal and dedicated volunteer support base,” explains Rob. “Nationally 22% of people volunteer at least once a month. At St Clare about 65% of our volunteers volunteer every week! Why? 85% of our volunteers say that volunteering contributes positively to their health and wellbeing. That far exceeds the national average of 75%.”

One of the ways we seek to recognise the commitment of our volunteers is through the presentation of length of service awards. During the week, long service awards were given out to volunteers who surpassed the significant milestone of 5 years, 10 years, 15 years or 20 years of volunteering. This year a startling 60 volunteers have surpassed one of these milestones in the last 12 months!

Jane Iskander, the Day Therapy Manager, said: “The Day Therapy Team got together to thank and celebrate our amazing volunteers in style on Tuesday. It was lovely to see so many attend we also had a long service award thanking Pat Pritchard our lovely volunteer Admin for her commitment and dedication to St Clare for over TEN Years!!”

Paul Miller, Facilities Manager at St Clare Hospice, said: “As part of Volunteers Week, the Facilities team held a get together this morning with the gardeners in the dining room to thank them for all their hard work in ensuring our gardens are so beautiful for all our patients, their family members and staff to enjoy. This was also an ideal time to recognise, Elspeth Milner, Jacqui Pook and Terry Tipton with long service awards. Thank you again to all the gardeners for their tireless work in all weathers in making the gardens an oasis of peace.”

Alison Plumb, Deputy Manager of the Inpatient Unit said: “We held a tea party for our volunteers in the Inpatient Unit to celebrate the considerable contribution our volunteers make to patients, families and staff on the Inpatient Unit. We also celebrated the long service of some of our volunteers who reached the significant milestones of five and 15 years volunteering at St Clare.

We spoke to some of our volunteers…

As part of Volunteers’ Week 2019 we also gathered numerous profiles outlining some of the different roles which people volunteer in across the Hospice.

John Eaton
John Eaton

John Eaton, a Community Fundraising volunteer, has been volunteering with St Clare Hospice as a tin collector for the Community Fundraising team for the last 18 months, but his connection with the Hospice began much earlier.

“My wife, Fiona, works in the retail section of the Hospice and I was always getting volunteered to help her,” said John. “But then I heard that the Hospice was looking for a tin collector in Sawbridgeworth and I thought that this would be a good opportunity to be more structured in my volunteering efforts.

“It’s my way of giving something back,” says John. “When I retired I wanted something that would help my give back to my local community, and this gets me out meeting people and contributing to a great local charity.”

John likes to combine the collections so that he does them all over one or two days. He then repeats this process around four to six times a year. “Because I’m retired I can be flexible around my collections,” says John. “There are around a dozen local businesses on my patch and I can work around their opening hours.”

John’s volunteering tasks involve visiting all of the shops and pubs in Sawbridgeworth that the Community Fundraising team have given collection tins to; he collects the full tins and distribut

es empty ones to them, returning the collection tins to St Clare.

To many in Sawbridgeworth, John is the face of St Clare. He is also a source of information as he distributes leaflets about our lottery, our care and different ways individuals can support us – so that local organisations are able to spread the word about what the Hospice does and how people can support us.

“Although my role is to collect the tins, it’s actually about more than that – it’s about community engagement and building a rapport with the local businesses which are supporting St Clare,” said John. “A great part of the role is that I also get to give out certificates to the local companies, and generate a feeling of competition amongst them – inspiring them to raise more and to look at St Clare as their number one charity to support.”

The Community Fundraising team need to raise £30,000 every year from their collection tins so ensuring that they are collected when they are full, and that there are in prime position, is an essential part of the Hospice’s fundraising efforts.

John concedes that there is stiff competition when it comes to fundraising in the local area, and that businesses seem to be warmer to a regular face, it also helps to make sure that we are front of mind – as well as at the front of the till. “Whenever I pop in to collect a tin I always make sure ours is at the front!”

Chris Carter has been volunteering at St Clare Hospice for 18 months, giving one morning a month to help the Communications team distribute press releases to local media outlets. Chris said “I was keen to give something back after spending the past 40 years in an all-encompassing job. I knew of the brilliant work of hospices as per of my previous role as editor of a local newspaper. I helped fund raise with several appeals through our newspaper. I was also aware of the great work of St Clare as family friends had used the facility and spoke highly of the fantastic care provided.

“I love working at St Clare as I feel I am contributing in some small way to the work there. I am also pleased to be able to keep my skills fresh and learn new ones. It is crucial for people to volunteer in order to provide back up for the paid staff members. It is also a good way for retired people, and people out of work, to continue to contribute and feel valued.”

Chris added: “I can see the difference – I get a buzz when I see press releases published in the magazines I have sent them to, and also when I hear people have responded to them. I feel valued in my role at St Clare and really appreciate the support of my team. I also appreciate the support and gratitude expressed by people in other teams.”

George Hobbart is one of our amazing young volunteers. He has been working at our specialist book and music shop for the last 3 years. George originally started working with the shop as part of his Duke of Edinburgh award (in 2016) and has continued to work with the shop ever since.

George volunteers every Saturday and is a highly valued asset to the team, working on the till. He is excellent with the customers and has fantastic customer services skills. George’s excellent customer service has helped to ensure repeat visitors from our customers. This has contributed to the overall success of the store on a monthly basis; St Clare’s specialist book and music store in Bishop’s Stortford regularly surpasses its monthly target and George plays a part in this success.

George is also is very knowledgeable about vinyl; he has helped the store to develop a growing reputation as a vinyl retailer within the local area including persuading his friends from sixth form to increase this collection. Although George will be moving away in September, he hopes to keep in touch with the shop. He adds: “I start at Oxford University this year but would still like to pop into the shop whenever I can.”

Hazel Sugarman
Hazel Sugarman

Hazel Sugarman volunteers at St Clare, helping out on a Monday afternoon at the Day Therapy Creative Group.

Hazel said “I volunteer in Day Therapy fortnightly, on a Monday afternoon at the Creative Group. I help out with whatever craft we have planned for the session. This can be assisting people practically with their crafts, or suggesting and sharing ideas. A lot of the time, we just have a light-hearted chat about everyday things! We generally end up having a good laugh and everyone gets to take home their artwork.

“I have volunteered all my adult life at a number of projects and organisations because I believe that it’s good to be involved in your local community. Both you, and your community, reap the benefits of volunteering. At St Clare, we have such an enjoyable time. I’m not sure who gets more from it; group participants, staff or myself!”

Some quotes from the team…

Volunteer Audrey Marlow said: “I have been a volunteer with St Clare for almost 30 years. Helping to run Harlow Friends and one morning a week in Fundraising. I enjoy both my roles and thank the rest of the Friends’ team for all their hard work and the thousands of pounds they have raised over the years. Thank you!”

Volunteer Angela Wilkins said: “St Clare has a special place in my heart and my son’s as my husband passed away there. They are Angels, so I work in the Epping shop Monday mornings to try to give a little something back.”

Volunteer Marie Hooper said: “I enjoy working on reception and hopefully make a contribution to the hospice operation.”

Stacey Towler, the Compassionate Neighbours Project Manager who also volunteers as a Compassionate Neighbour, said: “I visit my lady and gentleman every week where we sit and chat and have a cup of tea. I have been visiting her for a year now and I see them both as my friends. Volunteering for that hour a week makes me feel that I am able to make a difference. I feel I get just as much out of visiting them both as they do seeing me. We have shared laughter and tears together and I really cannot see life without them both. Being a volunteer is a special role, we all have some time to give in whatever way we can.”

Volunteer with St Clare Hospice

If you have been inspired to volunteer with St Clare Hospice, you can find out more information on our website, here:

Alternatively, please contact our Voluntary Services Manager, Rob Wallace, on 01279 773722 or email

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