Colin & Gwen's Stories

Saluting the volunteer army who are at the heart of Cornwall Hospice Care.

It takes an army of 900+ volunteers to help Cornish charity Cornwall Hospice Care provide its very special service in Cornwall and we salute those who give their time and skills, to say thank you and to inspire others to join up.  As part of the charity’s #HospiceStories project, Colin Hatch from Hayle and Gwen Bentley from Summercourt have made a short film about their roles, explaining why they volunteer and what it means to them. 

“Volunteers are at the heart of everything we do”, says Becky Miners, Volunteer Services Coordinator at Cornwall Hospice Care.  “We simply couldn’t manage without them, and it’s thanks to them all that we can provide such special and compassionate care to patients and their families at our two adult hospices.  They help on the wards, run our receptions, work in our shops, fundraise, drive vans, garden and so much more.  In fact there’s a role to suit everyone and to match their skills.  I should add that all our charity Trustees are also volunteers.”

Colin Hatch enjoyed a working life with Cornwall Fire and Rescue and when he retired decided to use his time to support charity.  He assists with fire safety training and does shifts as the receptionist at St Julia’s Hospice in Hayle; “I enjoyed a career that involved dealing with the public and I wanted to continue that and my brother received care, love and support in a hospice so I also wanted to show my thanks.  I thoroughly enjoy the voluntary work and I would say to people please give it a try, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”

Colin also does volunteer shifts for the National Coastwatch Institution in St Ives and supports the Cornwall Rugby Team.

Gwen Bentley is a ward volunteer at Mount Edgcumbe Hospice in St Austell.  She decided to take up her voluntary role after retiring from an office job; “I saw this as a chance to do something entirely different and the work is extremely rewarding.  It also takes you out of yourself, you have to think of others and it’s a lovely environment to work in.   As well as the ward shift, I also help with our Look Good Feel Good service where we assist people with hats and scarves at a time when they may be suffering from side effects such as hair loss.”

Becky Miners says “Volunteers across the country make a huge contribution. It’s great to have the opportunity to say a big thank you to our volunteers and to acknowledge just how much they do for our charity. We would be lost without them. It also means we can remind people of our constant need for more volunteers in any number of roles.  We hope others will be inspired by Colin and Gwen and by the many other volunteers , and will come and have a chat about joining the team.”

To find out more about volunteering at Cornwall Hospice Care, you can contact our Volunteer Services Co-ordinator at Mount Edgcumbe Hospice in St Austell on 01726 65711.


Inspired by Colin and Gwen’s Stories?

We have volunteer roles across our charity

Keith's Story

Keith (the Oggy Man’s) story…..

I was born in Penryn, at Bissom on the way to Mylor, born at home.  I’m very, very proud, very proud indeed to be Cornish. God’s country I do call it.

We used to go rugby and I always used to do an ‘Oggy Oggy Oggy’ and people said; ‘Oggy man, goin’ to do an Oggy are ee?’ and I’d say ‘yea’. I’ll carry on doing it, I just love doing it and people expect it now, especially at the end of the singing of Trelawney!

My late wife was Margaret, I’ve known her since I was 11, and we had our first official date on 1st May 1955.  We went down to Gyllyngvase Beach. I think we just had a wonder across the beach holding hands like you do and suddenly I thought; ‘I’m going to marry you’, and I did. We used to enjoy rugby together and we enjoyed concerts together, we also enjoyed going to church together. She was the nicest person and the bravest person I’ve ever come across to be honest.

Margaret became ill in 2009 and eventually they took her in to Treliske and she had a bone scan and the specialist come in said; ‘I’m very sorry to tell you but she’s got bone cancer’.  So we all had a few tears and then Margaret woke up and she could see we were a bit upset. She said; ‘What’s the matter, have I got bone cancer?’  So we said yes, and I said sorry me luvver.  ‘Oh’, she said, ‘what’s for tea?’ – that was Margaret for you.  And then from there she was taken down to St Julia’s Hospice.

A day or so after she got down there, the Doctor came round and he said; ’Well Margaret now you’re here, how do you feel?’  And she said something that really stuck with me. She said I feel safe.  And I must be honest and say St Julia’s was absolutely fantastic.  Not only to Margaret, but to the whole family.  I mean we could stay down there if we wanted to, it was absolutely brilliant and she was cared for so beautifully, we couldn’t have asked for more.  It helped, that kindness and knowing Margaret felt safe and that we could be together in one special place.

She planned all her own funeral.  She said; ‘I want What a Friend We Have in Jesus’, I want Oh For a Thousand Tongues to Sing, I want a Cornish flag on my coffin and I want you to do another thing for me – I want you to do a concert in my memory and all the money is to go to the hospices.’

Well it was a brilliant concert, absolutely brilliant and we raised £3,515.50 – she would have been over the moon, she would have been thrilled to bits.  That’s an ‘ansome sum for Cornwall Hospice Care.  A big lump comes to my throat, especially when the choir sings ‘Bring Him Home’ from Les Miserables, but I’m having that at my funeral as well.  Well you’ve got to plan for these things, my kids know exactly what I want.

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Sam's Story

Making a difference – the Cornwall Hospice Care Sister who loves her job

Sam Pleasants faces the stark reality of life limiting illnesses every working day but she wouldn’t swap the role that she calls ‘a really great job’. Sam is the Unit Manager/Sister at Cornwall Hospice Care’s St Julia’s Hospice in Hayle where she’s worked for the last 13 years. Today (Monday 5 January 2015) she features in the charity’s year long story telling project, which aims to help people understand the work of the two adult hospices in Cornwall.

“People are really quite worried and even frightened when they come to us and there’s a popular misconception that once in a hospice you never leave, which isn’t always the case”, says Sam who features in a special film shot at St Julia’s.  “Despite our best efforts people are often terrified to come here and pretty much we dispel any myths in about an hour of people arriving. We can’t make people better, but we can make them feel better and that’s all they need, that’s all they want, and it enables them to carry on a bit longer and sometimes achieve goals they need to meet, like seeing a daughter get married or enjoying a Chinese takeaway.”

“We have an attachment with all the patients on many different levels, but some more than others simply because they might strike a chord in your heart. They might remind you of your Gran or there could be someone the same age as you laying in the bed and for me it tends to be those patients that I’ll remember.  I know I do a good job and I know my team do a fantastic job and that helps you to walk away with your head held high thinking I did the best I could today.”

“People often ask me where I work and I say I’m a nurse and I work in the hospice and their face drops and they say that must be really hard but I say no way, it’s a really great job, I love it. We laugh with the patients and with each other. We do a really good job and we make a difference.

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