Meet Liz and Derek

If you have an interest in the outdoors, some experience and knowledge of gardening and a few hours to spare each week why not volunteer your time to help keep our Hospice gardens looking beautiful for our wonderful patients and families?

Liz and Derek are a married couple who both volunteer in our gardens every Tuesday. Liz has been volunteering for three years and she then roped Derek in last year. Liz tells us more about what it’s like to be a volunteer gardener at the Hospice and why she does it:

“I retired at 65 from a busy life running my own business in Newcastle and then spent a couple of years enjoying the freedom to do all of the things I had not had time to do because of the demands of my work. However, there came a point when I felt I needed a bit more purpose in my life. Like many residents of Newcastle, I always had an affection for St Oswald’s Hospice and it was in fact named as the chosen charity for my business to support. I’ve also always been a keen and active gardener, so gardening at the Hospice just seemed like an ideal volunteering role for me.

“I find volunteering so enjoyable as I love gardening. When I first started I took on the responsibility to develop a small garden area which needed a bit of attention. It was an ideal way to begin as a volunteer because I had the freedom to make choices and plan and work on the space, which gave me creative satisfaction. The team of gardeners are so friendly and welcoming, and they make sure that anyone new becomes completely absorbed into their group in no time at all.

“Gardening is such a rewarding occupation but as well as that we gardeners receive many positive comments and words of gratitude from the staff, patients and visitors, who appreciate the lovely gardens we care for and our hard work to maintain them.

When asked if Liz would recommend becoming a St Oswald’s Hospice volunteer to others she added:

“I definitely would, in fact I did to my husband Derek who joined the team about a year ago. Don’t get me wrong, it is not all a ‘bed of roses’, there is often hard work and there are challenges involved. But throughout the challenges our team of gardeners have pulled together, supporting each other and putting in extra time when needed. Each gardening volunteer has their own reasons for supporting St Oswald’s Hospice, it’s a special place.”

Derek added:

“I’ve had many different jobs within horticulture throughout my career and had my own landscape business. I’ve also ran gardening night classes and taken lectures at Newcastle University for architecture students, so Liz thought that my lifetime experience in horticulture could be useful to the St Oswald’s Hospice Team.

“I have always enjoyed gardening as an activity as well as a career so I thoroughly enjoy helping to create and look after the lovely gardens for patients, visitors and staff to enjoy. It’s a very rewarding role.

“Last year I had the pleasure of meeting Charlie Dimmock (gardening expert and television presenter) when she was at the Hospice with the Children in Need Surprise Squad filming for the BBC’s One Show. That was an unexpected pleasure, she seemed a very lovely person”

“The existing team of gardening volunteers are a very jovial and enthusiastic bunch, who are a pleasure to volunteer with. More gardeners are definitely needed as there are a lot of areas to be looked after so I would definitely recommend others to join us.

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