How volunteering for St Catherine’s has given retired Randel a new focus
Using his spare time to volunteer in a bustling café which supports the work of St Catherine’s Hospice, Randel Bolton is not only giving something back to the charity which cared for his beloved wife; he’s also enjoying gaining new skills and meeting new people in the process.
Randel, who worked in furniture design, manufacturing and retail for 40 years before retirement, contributes two days a week as a café assistant in the popular Mill in the grounds of St Catherine’s Park, from which proceeds are used to help fund the specialised end-of-life care provided by the hospice.
He came into contact with St Catherine’s after his late wife Angela received care at home from the charity’s Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS), who provide assessment, treatment and support to people with life-shortening illnesses out in the community.
Randel said: “We had a huge amount of help from the CNS team after Angela’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. I could ring them up at any time of day for advice – they were absolutely invaluable in what was a very difficult and strange situation we found ourselves in.”
Angela sadly died just over two months after she was diagnosed, in May 2014, and Randel has since made a donation to St Catherine’s for her birthday in March and at Christmas time, in her memory.
“A friend said that I should pay a visit to The Mill café,” he added. “So this March after I’d made my donation at the hospice, I called in for a tea and a pastry, and I just thought the atmosphere was really friendly and welcoming; I liked the ambience of the place.
“I saw notices for volunteers and it just really interested me. I’m a keen cook and food is my hobby, so it seemed like the ideal place for me.
“It’s great because it gives me a couple of days a week which fulfils an opportunity to meet people and make new friends, and I’m really starting to feel like I’m making a meaningful contribution. I can work the coffee machine and take customers’ orders on the iPads, so I’m constantly learning new skills too – and it’s very different from my previous line of work.”
Randel, from Hoghton, also said that volunteering is perfect for him as it affords him the flexibility to continue going on holiday with friends, and fit his role around other interests such as photography, crown green bowling, cooking and entertaining, and caring for his new rescue dog.
He’s also enjoyed lending a hand at weekends with The Mill Outside – the outside catering arm of the café – at the Royal Lancashire Show this summer, and the charity’s own Bark in the Park fundraiser in Preston at the start of October.
“It’s nice knowing that I’m making a small contribution to the charity, and it’s become part of my weekly schedule,” he said. “I look forward to coming to The Mill. I live alone so it’s good to get out of the house, and it’s a great feeling being able to help the hospice. It gives me a sense of purpose.
“It’s just another interest which helps to fill my time in retirement. I think anyone would find volunteering a worthwhile way to spend a few hours a week; I would really recommend it.”
Nikki Dobson, volunteer coordinator at St Catherine’s, said: “We’re always on the lookout for more people to join our amazing team of volunteers. We have around 700 people who offer their time and skills to support the hospice, and we’re so incredibly grateful for their efforts. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to continue providing our specialist palliative and end-of-life care to local people.
“People volunteer for all sorts of reasons; to give something back after experiencing the care of St Catherine’s; to develop their skills and CV; to meet new people and for the company.
“Even if you haven’t come into contact with St Catherine’s before, if you have a spare few hours a week and are keen to do something worthwhile which is also enjoyable and incredibly rewarding, I would really urge you to see how you can get involved with the charity.
“There is a wide variety of volunteering opportunities with St Catherine’s, from catering, retail and grounds maintenance, to lending a helping hand in our inpatient unit, in admin, as a befriender in people’s homes, or on the road as a volunteer driver, plus many more.”
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