Save Our Hospice: Volunteer approaches decade as a ray of sunshine

Harold McDonald and volunteer June Williams.
Harold McDonald and volunteer June Williams.

June Williams hasn’t sat down for 30 seconds before she gets up again to answer the phone.

Two minutes later someone calls “June?” from across the room and asks her some questions.

Smiling and unphased, June replies: “Yes flower?”, and deals with the situation, then she zooms off again taking a message before she finally settles back into the chair.

Maybe I caught her at a busy point, but it seems to be all go for the 72-year-old St John’s Hospice volunteer on a Thursday lunchtime.

“I love it though,” she says, as she keeps one eye on what’s going on in Oak Centre day care room and reception.

“It gets me out. It’s my social life.

“My husband and I came from Manchester, and I didn’t know anyone, but now I’ve come here and I’ve got so many friends, and being with the patients on a Thursday is just lovely.”

A former pub landlady, June was nervous at first about helping out with the patients after starting in the kitchens.

She tells me that both her mother and father, and one of her brothers, all died of cancer, and that could have had an effect on her initial lack of confidence.

“When they first asked me to spend time with patients, I thought that it would just be too emotional, but I said I would give it a try,” she said.

“And it’s just been brilliant.

“I have a laugh with them all.

“I come in and say, ‘you’re peace is over now, June’s here!’”

June said she didn’t initially become a volunteer because of her parents, rather it was more of a social thing.

“Coming here I just put all my problems at the back of my mind,” she said.

“I bring a bit of fun, and some of the patients don’t want a doctor or a nurse.

“We never ask questions of a patient, but we’re here if they want to ask questions, and sometimes they do.

“As well as me helping out, this has helped me at the same time, it’s given me confidence.”

June volunteers four days a week, on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, which amounts to about 16 hours a week, and she will have been a volunteer for 10 years next July.

She works on the main reception and the Oak Centre reception, and also does what she calls “facilitating” but what translates, to me at least, into generally just being a ray of sunshine.

She also organises the entertainment for the people who come to the day care centre at St Johns, which could include music, bingo, quizzes or playing games.

She added: “I’d say to anyone thinking of becoming a volunteer here - ‘come and give it a try, and fall in love with it like I have’.”