Jean looks back on 35 years as a volunteer

Posted on 13 February 2017.

Jean Johnson is Compton Hospice’s longest serving volunteer having joined before the doors officially opened 35 years ago.

Her first task as a volunteer was to arrange flowers and over the years she has taken on many different roles. Jean currently volunteers one day at week as a receptionist on our inpatient unit

She comments: “It was just after Christmas when my friend told me the hospice was about to open. After the festive period I had so much food in the cupboards that I decided to donate it to the hospice’s raffle. I was greeted at the door by Ros Kensey who was the matron at the time. She asked me if I could help out at the hospice in any way and I told her I could do flower arranging and that I was a secretary before I got married so she took my telephone number.

“Around two weeks later I received a phone call from Ros. The hospice was now open and they had received a lot of flowers so I was asked to come and arrange them. After that I volunteered quite regularly and did all kinds of jobs from greeting patients and their families at the door to making drinks and taking people up to the ward.

“Over the years I have seen many changes here at the hospice. Since opening in 1982 we now support a lot more patients, both here and in the home and our services have developed so much. The inpatient unit has been modernised and patients now each have their own room which gives them privacy and dignity.

“My most notable memory is of a gentleman who was a patient on the ward. He didn’t have any relatives so I talked to him for hours and kept him company. As I was leaving he took my hand and said: ‘Thank you. This is the first time in a long time I’ve felt safe.’ I just think it’s so lovely that we are able to make people feel that way.

“I never thought when I first walked through the door that I would still be here 35 years later but the reason I have stayed for so long is because I enjoy the atmosphere and interacting with the patients, doctors and nurses. Even after all this time I still feel like I get so much out of volunteering.”

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