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A tribute to our volunteers: thank you!

June 3, 2024

This week marks Volunteer’s Week, which celebrates the amazing contributions volunteers make to communities across the UK. The celebration starts on the first Monday in June every year and is a chance to recognise and celebrate their contributions to our local communities, the voluntary sector, and society.

From everyone at Shooting Star Children’s Hospices, we want to say a heartfelt ‘Thank You’ to our strong team of 525 dedicated volunteers.

They’re not just helpers; they’re the beating heart of our charity. They’re essential partners in our efforts to provide exceptional care and support to children with life-limited conditions and their families. Our volunteers generously give their time and expertise in myriad ways. From being beside the hydrotherapy pool to allow families to swim or making sure our eBay customers receive their purchases, their contributions are diverse and indispensable.

In our garden at Christopher’s on Wednesday mornings, you will find Gary, digging up roots, repairing fences and keeping on top of weeds. For nearly a year, Gary and his wife have been volunteering, to “give something back” to Shooting Star following the death of their eight-year-old grandson, Ted.

“My son and his wife were fortunate that Shooting Star Children’s Hospices were available to them while Ted was alive. 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. It impressed us so much; we felt so cared for and the staff were amazing.

“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.”

While Gary’s in the garden, you may find Murphy, a Show Cocker Spaniel, inside our bespoke music studio while a child attends their music therapy session.

Along with Charlotte, a Pets as Therapy Volunteer, he visits to bring smiles to many faces, as well as a furry friend to chat to and stroke.

“Since we started volunteering, we have found it really rewarding to help others and to see the joy on people’s faces during difficult circumstances,” Charlotte said.

Murphy also visits our family events, as well as birthdays.  

“When we come into Shooting Star, you can see the happiness that the hospice brings to children. When Murphy arrives, he puts a smile on their faces and puts some more happiness into their day.”

Meanwhile, at Shooting Star House in Hampton on Tuesdays, you will be welcomed by Margaret in reception.

For over 19 years, Margaret has been volunteering for us.

“Since Shooting Star House opened in 2005, I have been volunteering in reception,” Margaret stated.

“Every Tuesday morning, the Family Support Team tells me who is coming into the hospice. Children arrive for hydrotherapy pool sessions, music therapy, and then there’s counselling too. I open the door to everybody; I get them to sign in and I talk to the families. It’s nice because I find the same children come in on the day that I’m in, so I get to know the families. With the head office based at Shooting Star House now, I also take calls that ring into reception for staff and I also note down who might be visiting.

“Shooting Star is a very special place. People might think it’s a very sad place. There are sad moments and sad families, but every family benefits from our care and that is very, very special. It’s like having arms wrapped around you and caring for you and I think that’s where the hospice is very beneficial to every family that comes here.”

As she signs you into the building, you might see Anna during one of our Siblings Days.

Since the beginning of the year, Anna has volunteered at a range of these events, which are a chance for our supported and bereaved siblings to make connections with others who are going through similar situations in their families.

“I have a family history with Shooting Star, as my brother had a brain tumour and passed away in 2006,” Anna shared.

“For half of his illness, Shooting Star helped me and my family and continued to be there for us after he died. I was inspired to volunteer because of the link to my brother. Shooting Star has always had such a special place in my heart.

“I see children come into Shooting Star, shy, scared, nervous and even sad about leaving their parents. Towards the end of the day, they come out of their shell and embrace the day to whatever level they’re able to or willing to. It’s incredible to see and it’s a credit to the staff who organise the days.”

While children are bonding at these dedicated days, our team of volunteers in our retail shops are busy sorting through quality donated goods and pricing them to go on the shop floor.

On Sundays, you will be served by Alex, a 16-year-old student who volunteers in our Cobham shop.

“I was meant to volunteer for a month,” Alex said, who wanted to keep busy during his school holidays.

“However, I really enjoy the shop and I have been volunteering there for six months. I find the role really relaxing and fun.

“If you want to volunteer, just do it. The interactions with customers are positive because we are doing it for a worthy cause.”

This Volunteer’s Week, we express our deepest gratitude to these remarkable individuals. Your unwavering support, enthusiasm, and kindness make Shooting Star Children’s Hospices a place families call a home from home. We are profoundly grateful for all that you do. Thank you.

“I feel enormously privileged to work alongside such an awesome group of volunteers who never cease to amaze me with their passion, dedication and generous gift of time to Shooting Star Children’s Hospices,” said Melanie Hill, Head of Volunteer Development and Retail.

“In this Volunteers’ Week and whether they volunteer in retail, our hospices, at our fundraising events, or in our communities, I hope they are truly aware of the difference they make to the families we serve and that without them we would not be able to deliver the breadth of support we provide to so many families in Surrey, south-west London and north-west London. Thank you.” 

We’re always looking for new people to join our volunteer team, whether that’s for a few hours each week, or helping out a few times a year at our events. To find out more about how you can make a difference by volunteering, visit here.