St Francis 30for30 Appeal: Unsung heroes tell of rewards reaped by volunteering

08:23 28 May 2014

Volunteer Maureen Ballard at work

Volunteer Maureen Ballard at work


With Volunteers’ Week approaching, we spoke to three individuals providing vital support free of charge at Saint Francis Hospice.

Volunteer Gurmit Mahil spreading the hospice message at an information stand held recently at King George HospitalVolunteer Gurmit Mahil spreading the hospice message at an information stand held recently at King George Hospital

Widow Maureen Ballard has been involved in voluntary work for 10 years, having first started organising events for staff at the bank where she worked. But it wasn’t until 2009, after the sad death of her husband, Tony, who was cared for at Saint Francis in 2006, that she became involved with the work of the hospice.

“I loved the role, but you had to be very strong as it could be emotional,” said the 64-year-old from Collier Row who began as a day hospice volunteer serving patients refreshments.

“I used to encourage 
patients who could, to get up and dance, or just sway to the music, played by Harry the amazing organist who came in to entertain us.”


Volunteer Dawn Stevens in Saint Francis Hospice's Green Lane Becontree shopVolunteer Dawn Stevens in Saint Francis Hospice's Green Lane Becontree shop

In 2010, she moved into fundraising. She said: “I call people who have collection boxes to see if they need us to collect and replace them, price up and sort stock, help put together raffle prizes and attend events to lend a hand.

“I’ve helped collect entry fees at the Classic Car Fest and been a car park marshal at the sponsored dog walks. I get a great sense of achievement volunteering at the hospice.”

Carol Yusef began making cups of tea and now helps students with their coursework in the hospice’s Pepperell Education Centre Library

“In the day hospice I made cups of tea for the patients and just chatted to them,” she said.

The 53-year-old, of Chigwell, added: “I met so many inspiring and interesting people, and loved listening to their life stories.

“The beauty about volunteering here is that you can change where you work and what you do to help without having to leave.

“I work in the library helping students with their coursework for their nursing degrees including literature searches and appropriate reading.”

Dagenham’s Dawn Stevens volunteers at the Saint Francis Hospice charity shop, in Green Lane, Becontree.

“I’ve volunteered here since 2009 and I like the people I work with” said Dawn., who is one of 12 regular volunteers at the shop.

“I now volunteer on two days a week. This Friday I’m sorting out clothes and bric-a-brac to decide what should go on display in the shop,” she added.

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