A Fond Farewell and A Warm Welcome

We recently said a fond farewell to Maureen Raper who had been a member of our Catering Team for a whopping 24 years! Whilst Maureen is looking forward to enjoying her retirement we welcome the lovely Jean Blackburn to the St Oswald’s Hospice family as Catering Manager.

We caught up with Maureen in her final week to say goodbye and celebrate her retirement. She said:

“I’ve worked in the Catering Team at the Hospice for 24 years now so I’m very sad to be leaving after all this time. I was due to retire in 2020 but stayed on due to Covid-19. Now that things seem to be improving and the tough times are hopefully behind us I feel that I can leave with confidence that the team is in very good hands.

“I’ve absolutely loved working at the Hospice, the patients make it all so worthwhile as ultimately that’s why we’re here. Before Covid-19 we used to visit the Inpatient Ward to chat to the patients about what they wanted to eat and that contact made the job so rewarding. I’ll miss everyone greatly, especially Amanda and David who I’ve worked with since I started, we’ve become really close friends.

“St Oswald’s Hospice is an extremely special place and I feel honoured to have worked here for so long.”

Maureen leaves the Catering Team in the very capable hands of Jean. Jean has previously worked as a chef, catering manager and most recently campus service manager so she has a wealth of knowledge, experience and skills to bring. Jean tells us more about what she’s looking forward to, what she hopes to achieve and how in such a short space of time she’s already realised how special St Oswald’s Hospice is:

“I’ve been working at the Hospice for about a month now and I really am raring to go. My background is in catering but in my last job I had responsibility for maintenance, cleaning, caretaking as well as catering so I’m thrilled to just be concentrating on catering again. Food is my passion and I really wanted to return to just working in that area.

“Even though I’ve only been here a short period of time I can already tell that it is a lovely place to work, everyone is so welcoming, helpful and caring. I feel that it takes a certain, special type of person to work or volunteer here and that was very obvious from day one. Compared to my previous roles in schools and hospitals the Hospice is very calm and has a lovely atmosphere.

“I feel that by working at St Oswald’s Hospice I’ll be making a positive contribution and I’ll feel useful. If a patient has been off their food it’s lovely to know that as a team we might be able to prepare something for them that they really fancy and will enjoy. We are a small part in a big jigsaw of care that is provided here but knowing that we can contribute in some way is extremely rewarding.

“I have lots of relevant experience that I can bring to this role. I’m looking forward to working with care teams and Nola, the Dietician, to update the menus, offering more variation and catering to more tastes. When we can I’d also like to reintroduce themed menus to encourage staff and volunteers to buy their lunches from us and bring some buzz back to the dining room!

Jean ended:

“I’m loving being part of a catering team again, it’s a lovely working environment and everyone is so nice. The volunteers are fantastic as well, they do a grand job and are so helpful. St Oswald’s Hospice really is different to anywhere else I’ve ever worked.”

Fun fact – Jean has catered for several VIP’s over the years including a Prime Minister and members of the Royal Family!

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