Pre-lockdown, Liz had been a dedicated volunteer on the ward and in the kitchen, helping out where she was needed and chatting to patients. Now, although you can’t see her smile behind her mask, once a week she welcomes people arriving to visit their loved ones. Liz explains:
At the moment, visiting is by appointment only and there is a procedure to follow. I welcome them and if they haven't been before, I explain there are certain restrictions. Visitors have to sanitize their hands and I kit them out with PPE; masks, gloves and an apron.
They sign in and say what time they've arrived. They only have 90 minutes, which is strict and it has to be adhered to. I then make sure the patient is ready to greet their visitor, so I go through and ask the nurses, and then I escort the visitor into their room.
I remind them that they have to stay in the rooms. If they need to speak to a nurse or anybody they have to press the buzzer in the room.
So it is very strict and although it is a very changed place, it's a very important place. And everybody is doing their best.
Because I had previously had a couple of my dear friends in The Hospice, when I was Lady Captain of Braintree Golf Club last year I decided that my charity of the year would be St Helena. One of its ambassadors, Graham Miller, had presented at the Golf Club on my first day as Lady Captain and he told us all about St Helena, and everybody was so supportive.
During that year I put on lots of different events for fundraising and sold many Christmas cards. I had an ABBA tribute night where 120 people came, and John Snow, a member of Braintree Golf Club, did a 100 mile cycle for St Helena. In total we raised about £11,000 so three new beds were purchased - I'm very proud of what I achieved.
15 months ago, I closed my business supplying branded clothing and promotional corporate gifts which I ran for 33 years. And after my Lady Captain’s year, as I had a lot of time on my hands, I decided that I would like to do some volunteering with the hospice.
I started straight away and I've done a full year now. I've really enjoyed it and I am quite adaptable, helping either on the ward or in the kitchen. When we locked down and we couldn't go in, that was a real hole in my life. I’m glad to be back now.
We can't really have much contact with the patients anymore which I really miss because that was the part of the job that I really enjoyed; sitting with them, talking, and giving them my time, which was lovely.
But everybody at the hospice is so lovely; I can't talk enough about them. It is an amazing place and everybody that comes in to visit, I just say to them, your beloved ones are in the best hands.
This story may not be published elsewhere without express permission from St Helena Hospice.
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