Making a difference at 77 - John's story

 “It’s amazing to know you’re making a difference in someone’s life at such a difficult time.”

John Docherty, 77, is a former trustee, current Vice President and has been volunteering as a ward helper at St Oswald’s Hospice since 2001. Come rain or shine, John is normally one of the first on-site, ready and eager to serve breakfast to our patients on the Adult Inpatient Unit. He’s made such a huge impact on the patients and families that he works with.

We are so thankful for all of the wonderful support he’s given us.

Despite volunteering for an amazing 22 years, John has no plans of giving up his ward rounds anytime soon!

John’s support of the hospice started in the late 1980s when, tragically, one of his friends died at St Oswald’s Hospice not long after we opened our doors.  She was only 35 and this brought home to John just how important end-of-life care is.

John had a further connection to the hospice, in that his wife, Glynis volunteered with the Lymphoedema Service from 2001 and then became employed at St Oswald’s Hospice in 2007. John explained:

“I decided to start volunteering after hearing about the impact of the Lymphoedema Service from Glynis. I had wanted to volunteer in the hospice years before that, but couldn’t due to work commitments.

“I remember having my interview with Deborah Heron, who was Director of People at the time and telling her that I might only be able to help for six weeks. And here I am! Over two decades later. I love how the whole umbrella of services comes together, supporting the wider healthcare community and all being delivered under such a relaxing atmosphere.”

He fondly talks about his work on the ward, as he continued:

“I’ve worked on the ward for such a long time and what strikes me is how strong people can be. Some of our patients have a wonderful outlook on life and it leaves me feeling very blessed and humble.

“If we have patients stopping for any length of time, I’ll get to know them. Some of the staff will tell me that our patients have been asking for me, saying things like, ‘Oh, John knows what I like’, when referring to their breakfast.

“It’s amazing to know you’re making that kind of difference and it’s an honour to share in someone’s life at such a difficult time.

“Volunteering is such a big part of my life now. The hospice has such an uplifting atmosphere. I find it a welcoming place to be and I love building relationships with the other staff and volunteers.”

And that’s not all! John has supported the hospice in a number of different ways over the years. He has even swapped his breakfast trolley for the catwalk, raising funds for St Oswald’s Hospice in a charity fashion show!

In his professional life, John worked as a management accountant, so kindly volunteered his professional skills at St Oswald’s Hospice, sitting on the board of trustees for eight years from 2004 to 2012.

John’s support as a trustee and ward helper has not gone unrecognised as he has now been made a Vice President in recognition and dedication to his service at the hospice.

John volunteers with us an amazing four times a week, so we just had to celebrate his story and say a huge thank you during Volunteers’ Week!

Talking about the positive impact John has made on the hospice, Anne Tuck, our Matron, on our Adult Inpatient Unit said:

“John really is amazing and will do anything to support the Hospice. He is our go-to when there have been gaps in the rota lately. His dedication is inspiring – he is here before 8am, most mornings.

“The impact John makes on our staff and volunteers is just immeasurable. He really is a star volunteer, even giving pointers and advice to new volunteers. We couldn’t imagine the ward without him.”

As well as making a difference to the lives of our patients and their families, John also enjoys the physical aspect of volunteering. He said:

“At my age, it’s important to keep moving. My role at the hospice enables me to do that. I’m one of the oldest volunteers here – and I’ll keep coming for as long as I can.”

Susan, who recently took over as our Volunteering Manager, added:

“As we shine a light on our wonderful volunteers this week, it’s humbling to read about stories like John’s. It’s incredible to see so many volunteers giving their time for free and in such a selfless and committed way.”

She added:

“We are always recruiting for new volunteers to join our team. John thought he’d only be able to help for a few hours initially and has ended up being such a big part of the St Oswald’s Hospice family.”

We’d like to say a massive thank you to John for his support, not only as a ward helper, but Trustee throughout the years.

Could you lend a hand? Alongside Volunteers’ Week, did you know that we’re taking part in The Big Help Out? The Big Help Out is a national volunteering campaign which was launched as part of King Charles’ Coronation.

So, we’d love to hear from you if you’ve got skills you would like to share with us! You’ll make a huge difference to our patients and families at St Oswald’s Hospice and who knows – you might even end up as one of our longest-serving volunteers, like John!

Check out how you could support us by clicking here.


Related Articles

View all