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Gardener and Maintenance

“Our grandson, Ted, passed away just over four years ago, at the age of eight. He had a life-limiting condition that required round-the-clock care. His condition meant that he had no real mobility of his own, so he was wheelchair-bound. He couldn’t talk, but through his character and his expressions, he was a very cheeky chappy. Ted was always happy and always laughing; he gave us all the giggles. Despite all his difficulties, he was a lovely and mischievous little lad who melted all hearts. He was an absolute joy and we miss him terribly.

“My son and his wife were fortunate that Shooting Star Children’s Hospices were available to them while Ted was alive. They spent many happy hours at Shooting Star as a family and through their connection with the hospice, they enjoyed some wonderful trips and special occasions. Though Ted’s life was short, he packed a huge amount in and it was largely down to the support and care of the hospice. When he passed, Shooting Star was there for us as a family. We used the hospice while we were in mourning for Ted, prior to his funeral service and subsequently, a number of family members have had counselling for bereavement and loss. It impressed us so much; we felt so cared for and the staff were amazing.

“Therefore, my wife and I felt we would like to give something back to the hospice for all the benefits we enjoyed as a family.

“Both my wife and I joined the volunteer team a year ago to help in the garden once a week on a Wednesday. We met Di, who is the main garden volunteer; she coordinates everything, and she does a wonderful job. Her enthusiasm and attention to detail are incredible. I tend to do most of the manual work, like digging up roots, repairing fences, the heavier sort of gardening work and maintenance to keep on top of the weeds, as well as replacing planting.

“The memory garden at Christopher’s is a lovely place for us to come and remember Ted and see the special leaf that is there in his memory. By tending the garden, we like to think we are keeping it nice and sparkly, as well as the hospice as a whole.

“Through the winter, gardening tends to slow down, so I help on the maintenance team. That got me involved in the ‘behind the scenes’ of the building, like making sure it’s a safe environment, doing lots of checks of the fire equipment, alarm systems and emergency lighting. They are little jobs, which themselves aren’t difficult, but they’re all vital and it’s time that the employed staff don’t have. I’m happy to lend a hand.

“The atmosphere at the hospice is always lovely and I like to feel like I’m giving something back. By volunteering, I feel it’s adding value to the organisation and I enjoy meeting other people. There’s a great team of volunteers here, as well as staff.

“If you have some time, then give it back and pay it forward for the future. Shooting Star relies very much on volunteers. Volunteering doesn’t have to be a massive commitment; it’s a couple of hours here or there. It’s great to feel like we are making a difference and certainly the appreciation we get as a response to the work we do is nice and that also makes it worthwhile to know you are appreciated.”