Hospice’s vital driving force

Volunteer drivers Brian Shaw and RoySadler.
Volunteer drivers Brian Shaw and RoySadler.

A retired lorry driver put his motoring skills to good use when he decided to volunteer for St John’s Hospice.

Roy Sadler was forced to take early retirement seven years ago after undergoing a hip operation.

“I was told I couldn’t carry on with my normal job as a long distance HGV driver,” Roy said.

“My wife had seen an advert asking for part-time drivers for patient transport, and so I rang them up and it turned out to be for the hospice.

“I went for an interview and ended up getting the job, and I’ve been doing it for five or six years now.”

Roy, now 71, collects hospice patients from their homes and drops them off at the day care centre at the hospice, before picking them up to take them home again in the afternoon.

Although his work mostly involves people from around the Lancaster and Morecambe area, he occasionally transports patients from further afield such as Kendal or Garstang.

And he has got to know many of his clients over the years.

“It can be heartbreaking at times because you pick people up every week for quite a while and you get to know them,” he said. “They will often tell you things that they don’t tell the nurses or their family.

“They become friends really rather than patients, and when you hear that someone has passed away it can be quite upsetting, but I guess it’s all part of the job.

“At first some of them don’t want to go to the hospice; they go for 16 weeks at a time but by the end of it they don’t want to stop going.

“Some of them don’t see anybody from when you drop them off at home to when you pick them up again the next time; it’s very sad for some of them.”

Roy, who lives in Heysham with his wife Sue, said the work of the hospice is often misinterpreted by people who haven’t been in contact with it themselves.

“Everyone thinks that people are going there to die but they aren’t always; it looks after people with all sorts of different illnesses,” he said.

“Before you do a job like this you never really think about the work it does but when it affects people you know it’s entirely different.

“They all do such a good job there; it’s a brilliant place.”

Roy has even managed to involve his brother-in-law Brian Shaw in his job.

“Brian also took early retirement and so I suggested he did it as well,” Roy said.

“It gets you out of the house, and it’s a nice feeling that you are putting something back.”