We have over 600 volunteers working around the Trust, here are a small selection of accounts from the volunteers themselves.
Jane Hitchings - Volunteer and Chair of the Patient Council
“I am a veterinary surgeon with over thirty years in practice so I have good medical and scientific understanding. I also work in a caring and health delivery profession, albeit for animals and their owners. I have spent quite a lot of the last two years receiving treatment from Derriford Hospital, for firstly an aneurysm in my left internal carotid artery at the level of the cavernous sinus, and then bilateral breast cancer.
“So I have had plenty of contact with the Neurology, Interventional Neuroradiology, Breast Care from the Primrose Unit and lastly Oncology. I am very grateful to Derriford for saving my life but I experienced a range of standards of care and communication ranging from excellent to very poor. It was after receiving a well handled response to a compliant, that I made contact with the Patient Experience Team to resolve the issues. They were open and willing to talk and indeed asked me to consider being on the Patient Council. I liked the idea of being a patient advocate and also being given a chance to serve my local hospital that had done so much for me.
“I joined the Patient Council as a volunteer to gain an understanding of how our hospital runs, the challenges and problems it faces and how to do as much as possible with what funds are available.”
Ian - Volunteer
“My wife and I moved to Devon some 16 years ago where I continued to work in the civil service. Our two sons were at one time both in the Royal Navy so it seemed natural that my wife June and I soon became involved with a forces charity where, for many years we were volunteer case workers. That involved visiting both serving and ex-forces members and their families in times of need and trying to provide the help and support they required.
“That kept us busy for the next ten years or so during which time I retired from full time work. Retirement gave us the opportunity to travel more and enjoy our grandchildren, two of whom live abroad.
“Whilst talking to a friend one day he mentioned that both he and his wife were volunteers at the local hospital. That sounded like an ideal opportunity to get involved once again in local matters, so after speaking to Elizabeth, the Volunteer Co-ordinator at the hospital I became one of the many local people putting a bit back into society. My role involves visiting patients in the wards where I run errands for them, such as getting items from the hospital shops. It’s great to be able to chat to patients and my ‘errand-boy’ duties help keep me fit and active.”
Kate Parker – RVS Library Trolley
“I have volunteered at the RVS library for over 2 years. Our team take book trolleys to the wards for patients to borrow during their stay in hospital. I love talking to the patients and offering them books to help them pass the time of day, taking their minds off their illnesses/injuries.
“Whilst working, and since retiring 10 years ago, I volunteered for many years with The Cinnamon Trust (walking dogs for the elderly and infirm). I continue to volunteer with the Friends of Devonport Park – in the gardening team, organising park events and singing in the choir. I am also a Trustee and volunteer gardener at The Horticultural Therapy Trust. I really enjoy giving my time to help other people in the community.”
Eileen Pearce - Volunteer
“For the last 7 years I have been volunteering at Derriford Hospital. When I first started I had just lost my husband of 50 years so this hospital has been a huge life-line to me. I started with patient shopping and am still doing this two mornings a week.
“I went on to do patient surveys, talking to patients about how they see the hospital. The hospital installed machines to make booking-in a lot easier so, for two afternoons I volunteered in outpatients and REI. These are now working very well. I had an accident with my knee and ended up in A&E where the nurse looking after me said “we could do with someone like you”, so now I volunteer there on Monday mornings (I love this department). They asked for volunteers to help out with assisting patients to eat their meals so I duly volunteered. Having been in catering for 40 years I joined the nutritional steering group where we help patients.
“Now I’m also volunteering with the RVS Library Service on Fridays, taking the book trolley around the wards. I’ve also helped on the PLACE assessments.
“So for four days of the week I work in this wonderful hospital. I do a bit of fundraising for the Neonatal Unit which is raising funds to build a home for mums and dads to stay in, near their sick babies. Two years ago, on reaching 75, I did a sky dive which raised £900. This year we are pushing an incubator from the hospital in to town and back again, raising money for the unit.
“I feel very fortunate to be able to do what I do, because the hospital is a wonderful place, so if anyone mentions volunteering – I’m there!”
Charlotte Willis – Hospital Radio Plymouth
"My name is Charlotte. I am a volunteer for hospital radio. I enjoy music and selecting music for patients. I bring an eclectic taste to you on Thursdays and Fridays.
“I joined because I have a heart condition which I have had since birth and found it difficult to fit in and music helped me through the difficult times so I understand how music reaches out to patients in their aid to wellbeing.
“I’m now going onto to do things like HBA national awards where I've finished in the top 5 for best newcomer and best female presenter and I’ve picked up awards internally at Hospital Radio. It gives me great pleasure to be involved with my other passion - football - and I’m involved with bringing the Argyle commentary on home Saturdays. I’m not sure during some games how my blood pressure stays calm with the edge-of-the-seat drama this season, but joking aside I have made my dream come to true by being given this opportunity and they don’t come along that often. So I like to thank Andrew Hill and Keith Jolley for this chance and the patients for making it worthwhile as they are most important and long may this continue each year."