Anyone who walks through the doors of Rotherham Hospice knows how important its army of volunteers are. Without it, the hospice would cease to exist. But now the volunteers are being applauded throughout the whole of Yorkshire.
The entire team of around 400 local people — who voluntarily support hospice staff, fundraisers and patients day in, day out – are winners of a prestigious award from HRH Prince Andrew.
The Duke of York founded his Community Initiative Awards in 1998 to “actively encourage the development of community spirit” in Yorkshire and Humberside. The valuable and inspirational work of hundreds of community-based projects has been rewarded over the last 19 years, but organisers believe it is the first time that hospice volunteers have won the accolade.
Said a spokesman for the Duke of York Community Initiative Awards: “We are delighted that for the first time an award marks the huge contribution hospice volunteers make. The role they play in the hospice movement is absolutely amazing. Coming as they do from all walks of life, the wealth of experience they bring to this vital service cannot be over-estimated.”
News of the award came just in time for Rotherham Hospice’s Voluntary Services Manager Tracey Harrison-Marr to join in the celebration. Tracey is leaving the hospice after 23 years of service — she joined as a volunteer co-ordinator in the very early days, three years before it moved to its purpose-built site on Broom Road in 1996.
She commented: “I’m absolutely delighted the dedication of our volunteers has been recognised by these awards — and that we have achieved a groundbreaking first! The hospice wouldn’t be where it is today without volunteers. They are a diverse group of people who volunteer for so many different reasons, but all are prepared to give their time to help someone else.
“They give us at least 41,000 hours each year for free, whether it’s manning the reception, acting as a trustee, manning a hospice fundraising event, helping in the hospice charity shops, transporting patients to appointments, or simply providing them with a cup of tea and a listening ear.
“Their work forges a strong link with the local community too. They are invaluable to us and it’s so important that their kindness is known about beyond the hospice community,” added Tracey.