Volunteers' news

UHDB volunteer Rita looks back at her 50 years at the Trust for NHS 75

Rita at UHDB's RDH entrance

Long standing volunteers who have given a combined total of 460 years of their time to helping others across UHDB have been honoured at a special ceremony.

The volunteers, whose service spans from 5 years to an incredible 50 years of service were thanked for their efforts and awarded certificates and pin badges to commemorate their time here.

Andrew Selby, Director of Estates and Facilities Management, spoke at the event and called the volunteers 'heroes' saying they are vital to the Trust as he provided certificates to volunteers with a total of 460 years of volunteering service.

Andrew said: "Your dedication means you are giving time and raising funds and without that support the Trust would not be able to do what it needs to do. 

"Volunteers are a huge part of the NHS and we welcome volunteers from the age of 14 all the way up to 100, which is a great opportunity to make volunteering part of people's lives. There's over 300 roles that volunteers cover across the NHS and they are all challenging and rewarding in their own way, so if you want to give it a try, I am sure we will find something to suit you.

"The organisation is incredibly proud of the volunteers here who make such a difference to those who come through our hospitals. Thank you so much to all of our volunteers, who are the real heroes of UHDB."

Among the volunteers was Rita Archer, who started volunteering at the hospital back in 1973, alongside her full-time job.

Back then she volunteered in what was known as 'the shop by the gate" and also operated a trolley service situated on the main corridor in the evenings. Rita said she always wanted to work in a hospital setting and upon leaving school wanted to be a nurse, but due to her asthma diagnosis she instead became a teaching assistant.

Rita speaks with BBC Radio Derby However, her desire to help others meant she started juggling volunteering alongside her full-time job and when she retired there was no hesitation in continuing to dedicate her time to the League of Friends.

Rita said: "I really wanted to belong to the League of Friends so I spoke to a neighbour of mine who was a volunteer and she introduced me. I just like being around people and getting to know them. I think I've learned more from being a volunteer than I've given to it and its been an absolute pleasure."

Rita has also played a big part in fundraising for hospital equipment and said that while she loves helping to give something back to the hospital community there have been some disasters along the way.

While helping with her first ever jumble sale Rita was instructed to hang the better clothes on the coat hooks and the rest underneath. She did as she was asked and was delighted when the team managed to raise a large amount of funds. But when the treasurer asked 'has anyone seen my overcoat?' Rita realised she had sold it by accident.

She said: "There have been many good times and lots of laughs along the way and even on the bad days when you listen to the most heartbreaking stories or you sit with someone who is having the toughest time, you feel like you have made a difference to someone and that is special. The people we come across are in hospital or visiting someone who is seriously ill and you find it's usually not a packet of crisps they want, but somebody to talk to."

Rita said she has seen a lot of change during her five decades of volunteering.

She said: "It doesn’t seem like 50 years but when I look back it is amazing how much has changed. I was here when we made the transition to the new hospital and that was really exciting, but I also remember the buses dropping patients off at the gate and there were no doors so people would leap off and come in. The buses would alternate between bringing in and outpatients on a Saturday and visiting hours were very different to how they are now. It was totally different when I started back in the seventies."

So what would Rita say to those who are considering becoming a volunteer?

"Just go for it! If you are even vaguely thinking about it, do it, because you will never know if it is for you or not otherwise. Give yourself time to settle in. There are so many different roles for a volunteer now that there will definitely be something for you. It has been incredibly rewarding and I intend to volunteer for as long as I am able to - I just love it."

How YOU can become a volunteer:

Our volunteers are an invaluable part of the Trust and offer support by welcoming and guiding patients as they arrive at our hospitals, offering a listening ear for patients and visitors or an extra pair of hands to help support our busy staff. 

Anyone aged 16 and over, in good health and with time to spare can volunteer at our hospitals. You can find out more about volunteering and how to get involved here 

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