“I just wanted to give something back.”
This was what Julie told me when I asked her why she volunteers for the Friends. And the ‘something’ she refers to currently stands at 21 years of voluntary service. That’s quite ‘something’.
But what put her on the path to volunteering was quite something too. After a life-changing cancer diagnosis at a very young age, Julie faced years of treatment at the DGH, including a number of trips to Kings too.
Julie received a bone marrow transplant, which saw her admitted as a patient on Pevensey Ward. And now, two decades on, Julie is one of the smiling faces serving you in the Main Shop once a week, every week – and currently doing extra shifts to help out too.
Being in isolation during her time on Pevensey Ward, Julie didn’t have any personal contact with the volunteers who would come round with the trolley, but she says she will never forget how precious that daily trolley was, and to this day, she still has a teddy she bought from the trolley one Christmas. They came through it together.
She said the Friends Shop was an equally important feature of her time at the DGH. “I didn’t always feel like very much, but even if it was something as simple as a pack of fruit pastilles, someone would go and get it for me. Things like that can make such a difference to you as a patient.” Not just for the patients either, the Shop was a valuable source for Julie’s visitors – she mentions the Mars bars her husband would often grab as he came straight to the hospital from work to be with her.
Julie feels an “amazing amount of gratitude” to the hospital and to the Friends, and that is why she continues to volunteer. She enjoys making a difference to people when they need something, whatever it may be – from the fairly day-to-day requirements (usually food and drinks) for the staff of the hospital, to the more specific needs of patients and visitors, down to sweet treats or gifts for children.
Julie’s volunteering doesn’t stop at the Shop either – she’ll be stepping in to help at our Annual Art Exhibition too. And it’s not all work. One perk of the job is the socialising the volunteers do, and Julie regularly joins in at the Friends’ popular dining events where the shop, trolley and cafe volunteers often represent the largest bookings we take!
Julie’s advice to anyone considering volunteering is simply to “give it a go if you have any free time”. She explains that there are so many options and opportunities available to try.
Julie is an incredible example of someone who has gone (and continues to go) above and beyond to give back. We are grateful for every moment of the 21+ years she has devoted to her volunteering for the Friends. Thank you Julie.
Oct 26 - Oct 27 2024
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