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The Volunteers Behind 284 Years of Service

Nelson Tasman Hospice is very lucky to have a team of over 500 volunteers gift their time for the 40 different roles available. Volunteers give Hospice the ability to offer unique services such as hairdressing, flower arranging, life story writing and ramp building. They also free up nurses’ time by helping in the unit, support the administrative staff by helping with daily tasks, as well as warmly greeting people at the café and reception areas at Hospice.

Eleven of these volunteers are considered long-service volunteers, and have been helping at Hospice for 20 or more years, collectively gifting 284 years of service altogether. Some would like to be anonymous, but among these dedicated members of the community are: Sue Sladen, Trish Donaldson, Sue Taylor, Anne Lawrence, Jenny Wills, Cher Robinson, June Thomas, and William Rush This is a mind-boggling amount of time to have gifted to the Nelson Tasman community and we can’t thank them enough for their services.

Sue has been a Hospice volunteer since 1989, making her the longest serving volunteer of all. She started out by helping in the Specialist Palliative Care Unit (SPCU), and happily did that for many years. Now, Sue has various roles around Hospice including volunteering at the Richmond Hospice Shop, helping with the Trees of Remembrance and fundraising at the Stoke New World raffle table. Sue suggested, if you’re working with patients, you really need to be able to commit to the role and feel like you’re in a good place to give a full effort to those that need it.

June has been helping in the SPCU for almost 20 years now. June also volunteered in the Hospice Shops for several  years. She fondly remembers a day that a “bright, bright orange hat with flowers around the brim, a piece of coloured stuff hanging down the sides and a turned-up brim at the front” came into the shop. June remembers joking with a fellow volunteer ,“That should go in the rubbish, for goodness sake. Sure enough, 10 or 15 minutes later and a lady was at the counter wanting to buy the hat!” She says it was hard to hold in a giggle as the customer said, “What nice smiley girls.”She finished the transaction, placed the hat on her head and walked out on to the street. One person’s trash really is another’s treasure!

Cher has been volunteering in Nelson’s Hospice Shop since 2000. “We’re so lucky to have a Hospice in Nelson…You meet a lot of lovely people.” Anne and Cher agree that it’s a “privilege to work for Hospice.” Cher enjoys seeing the unusual bits and pieces come into the shop.  “Sometimes we get the most unusual things in the shop, and I ask the customer what are you going to use that for? I get some interesting responses!”

William has been helping as a ‘bed volunteer’ since 2001 when he retired and has been volunteering in this role ever since, helping maintain equipment used in the community and in the SPCU. “I started this when I retired … when you move into town [from the country] you are looking for extra things to do. [Volunteering] was suggested and I discovered I knew the family of Mary Garner [Hospice’s patient care volunteer coordinator] very well and thought, ‘Oh that’ll do then.’ I was only a few minutes away from the old Hospice in town, and I said, ‘when you move to Stoke, I’ll probably retire.’ Somehow I still manage to keep coming out here.”

A very warm, heartfelt thank you to all the volunteers at Nelson Tasman Hospice, who make our services possible!

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