Volunteering ‘positive experience’ for Bosham couple

Mike and Helen Jelley enjoy volunteering together
Mike and Helen Jelley enjoy volunteering together

TWO dedicated volunteers at St Wilfrid’s Hospice are among those who make a real difference to people’s lives.

Their efforts are being highlighted as part of National Volunteers Week, which runs until Sunday.

Mike's arch at the Garden of Memories

Mike's arch at the Garden of Memories

Mike and Helen Jelley help at the hospice, in Grosvenor Road, Chichester, as well as organising fundraising events.

“Every little helps” is their motto, and Mike and Helen believe it is important to give their time and energy to support the work of the hospice.

Mike said: “I find it very humbling being with patients’ families as part of the team here at the hospice.”

The hospice relies on public support to raise 88 per cent of its annual running costs and could not offer its wide range of caring services without its team of volunteers, which includes Mike and Helen.

Mike’s involvement goes back to the beginning, as 28 years ago, he worked for the firm that built the hospice.

Since then, a few of his close friends have been cared for there.

During the early years of their marriage, the couple frequently pursued separate interests – Mike with his motor bikes and enthusiasm for military aircraft, and Helen with her sport, particularly the Sussex game of Stoolball.

They always promised each other that when they retired, they would do something together and now, in their 53rd year of marriage, they have spent the last four years doing just that by volunteering together at the hospice.

Helen said: “It truly feels like a family here, involving everyone in the team providing such exceptional care.”

Mike and Helen work every Thursday morning as ward volunteers, ensuring the kitchen area is always clean, tidy and well stocked. They make sure patients and their visitors have everything they need.

It’s an important date in their week and the couple have missed only three Thursdays in four years, due to health reasons. They even plan their holidays around Thursdays, making sure that day always remains free.

Mike and Helen also run regular hospice evenings in their garden in Bosham, which has a ‘pub shed’ – ideal for hosting visitors for ploughman’s or curry nights, in return for a donation to the hospice.

Mike’s ‘pub shed’, put to such good use on behalf of the hospice, is a finalist on Channel 4’s Amazing Spaces Shed of the Year competition.

Mike used his construction skills to build the altar in the hospice’s chapel and, most recently, a beautiful metal arch at the entrance to the Garden of Memories. This outside area is an attractive and peaceful place which is always open for visits.

He even braved a tandem parachute jump last year, raising £1,400 in the process.

The pair were determined that when they volunteered, it would be for the long term, and as they point out, they now cannot keep away.

They say they look forward to their visits as a very positive experience and when they come away, derive a great deal of satisfaction, always feeling they have done something good, however small.

The hospice said it would like to mark National Volunteers’ Week by thanking all its volunteers for their hard work and support.

More than 400 men and women currently volunteer, but more are always needed to assist with almost every aspect of the hospice’s work.

To find out more, contact Emma Lemm, volunteers service leader, on 01243 755815 or email emma.lemm@stwh.co.uk

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