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Saint Francis Hospice: Rewards of being a ward volunteer

PUBLISHED: 10:00 21 November 2020

Angela Bridge is a ward volunteer at the hospice and is full of praise for the Hospice at Home team which cared for her husband Tony when he had terminal cancer. Picture: Saint Francis Hospice

Angela Bridge is a ward volunteer at the hospice and is full of praise for the Hospice at Home team which cared for her husband Tony when he had terminal cancer. Picture: Saint Francis Hospice

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Ward volunteer Angela Bridge has experienced Saint Francis Hospice from both sides, both providing and receiving its care

I was 30 years old when I married Tony Bridge — 20 years my senior. “It’ll never work,” people said.

Twenty-eight years into marital bliss, I applied for a voluntary role on reception at Saint Francis Hospice. I remember how nervous I was, having not attended a job interview for decades.

I was sure that I’d made a pig’s ear of it.

“I messed that right up,” I said to Tony when I got home. Only minutes later, the phone rang, and the hospice asked me if I could start the following week. I gladly accepted. Little did I know that I would soon be needing the hospice’s services as much as they needed mine.

Our marriage was still going strong after 38 years when we received devastating news: Tony had terminal stomach cancer.

The Hospice at Home team cared for Tony at our home, and they were magnificent. The hospice gave him a special bed and the nurses would bathe him. They gave us everything we could have wanted — and more. I don’t know how I could have done it without them.

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It was Tony’s wish to pass away at home, surrounded by his loved ones. He was 87.

Since I lost Tony, volunteering has taken on a different meaning for me.

His passing made me realise how much I needed to keep busy.

Volunteering gives me a purpose. I get a lot out of it, and so does the hospice. There’s such a nice bunch of people here.

Saint Francis Hospice is an extraordinary place, and often quite different from what people expect.

A lot of people think it will be a morbid place, but they feel uplifted as they come through the doors. Even after a couple of hours, patients seem to be calmer, happier, and settled.”

The most rewarding part of my volunteering job is knowing that I’ve made a difference to someone’s day, and hearing the words “thank you”.

I know helping on the ward isn’t for everyone but there are so many volunteering roles available. If people have the time to give, then there the hospice has a role for you! Please find out more by visiting www.sfh.org.uk/volunteer or email volunteering@sfh.org.uk


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