Cornwall Hospice Care volunteer, Jane Stubberfield is one of the charity’s newest Trustees and has put pen to paper to explain what led to her to this key role…

Some of life’s worst moments can often lead to the greatest opportunities. When my partner was killed in a motor cycle accident some years ago, I decided I needed a change and moved from Cornwall to a lovely little cottage just outside Exeter.

It was a village where I knew no-one. So what would I do with my time? I was still pondering this when I was diagnosed with cancer. Fortunately, the disease was in its early stages and, in time, I was given the all clear, thanks primarily to the wonderful treatment I received at Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.

It was at this point that it occurred to me that my time would be best spent giving back something to those who were not so fortunate in their diagnosis. So I applied to be a volunteer receptionist at Hospiscare in Exeter. It was the start of what has to date been an eight year association with hospices.

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Six years ago, I moved back to the county that had been my home for more than 25 years, to Biscovey, near Par. I had so loved my time at the hospice in Exeter that when I discovered that Mount Edgecumbe Hospice was close by, I promptly applied to be a volunteer. I have been helping out both on the door and occasionally in reception ever since. Then, last year I became a volunteer at the Hub in Wadebridge too. In the meantime, I was also delighted to be given the chance to run a free workshop and coaching sessions for staff members.

In my spare time, I love walking in our beautiful countryside and I had long wanted to walk the entire South West Coastal Path in one go. The opportunity came in April 2016, a year or so after my retirement, and I set off from Poole in Dorset. I covered 500 miles over the next six weeks, mainly on my own although some lovely friends, my daughters and my current partner joined me for the odd day. It was such an adventure, beautiful scenery, occasionally scary, but mainly inspiring. Unfortunately, my knee gave out just before I’d completed the 630-mile walk, so I was forced to stop before I’d completed it. However, I was proud to have raised over £1,500 for the hospices.

Cornwall Hospice Care has become a very special part of my life. For me, it is a place of kindness, friendship and care. I am truly grateful to be able to make my tiny contribution by putting those who come to see their family and friends at ease and making them feel comfortable. I continue to be very keen to do all I can to help CHC deliver the best care to as many people as possible.

More recently, I began to wonder whether my career skills might be of value to the organisation as it moves forward. The latter part of my working life had been spent as a coach, trainer and organisational development consultant, helping people and organisations to flourish. So I approached Paul Brinsley, our Chief Executive, and asked if he thought I would be a helpful addition to the Board of Trustees.

At his suggestion, I attended a couple of meetings to see whether I, and they, felt I had a contribution to make. Subsequently I was interviewed by both the Chair of the Board and the Chair of the Clinical Services Committee and I was asked to submit two references. Finally, at a full Board meeting in June I was voted in as a Trustee.

Since then I’ve been finding out what, as a Trustee, I am expected to do. I have discovered that we are responsible for ensuring that the charity is accountable, financially sound and complies with all the legal and regulatory requirements. Also that the charity remains true to its vision, which is to ensure that anyone in Cornwall with terminal illness has access the necessary care and support, at the time and in the place that is right for them and their families. Finally, we have responsibility for ensuring the long-term sustainability of the charity.

Trustees attend not only the quarterly Board meetings but also join one of the three sub-committees: Clinical Services; Finance or Fundraising. To enable us to carry out our work, we are given access by the Executive to the reports, accounts and targets of each of the different areas of the charity such as the hospices, retail, fundraising, and PR and Communication. This includes employee surveys, patient feedback, CQC reports, etc.

The decisions on strategy we take are based on our evaluation of this information, discussions with Executive team and, increasingly, findings from other stakeholders. These may include employees, volunteers, patients and their families and carers, other hospices, the NHS and many others.

So how could I personally be of help? Well, besides my experience as an Organisational Development consultant, coach and trainer, I have a Masters degree in business (MBA) and have spent time as a researcher at the University of Plymouth Business School. Consequently, I am very familiar with business planning, developing strategies, finance, staff issues and communication.

I have been particularly interested to help encourage organisations to develop cultures that enable individuals, and the organisation itself, to learn and grow. Only by adapting to the changes taking place around it can they continue to offer the best. If that is to happen, everyone within the organisation needs to be a great learner, always looking for ways to do things better and to feel comfortable while doing it.

My hope is that I can use all of my skills and knowledge to help the charity do its vital work for the Cornish community.

I am very proud to serve as a Trustee for this charity, and I have already started visiting some of our shops and hope to get to all of them in time, as well as the hospices and offices. But if you would like to find out more about the Trustees and what they do, I would love to talk to you about it, so please get in touch. I am often to be found volunteering at Mount Edgcumbe, so you can leave a message for me there and I will get back to you.

Find out more about our volunteer Trustee Board