Volunteers awarded for more than 30 years’ service at St Catherine’s Hospice
A dedicated couple who have each given more than 30 years’ service volunteering for St Catherine’s Hospice have been presented with a prestigious national award.
Joe and Josie Mann, from Lostock Hall, have enjoyed giving their time and carrying out numerous tasks for the charity since it opened in 1985, from working in the kitchens, laundry rooms and reception, to making tea and even hat stands.
The pair, who have two daughters and six grandchildren, were nominated by staff at St Catherine’s to receive the League of Mercy Foundation’s award for distinguished voluntary service; the Order of Mercy.
Up to 50 people are chosen each year from across the country to receive the award, and Joe and Josie travelled down to London earlier this month to attend the special ceremony.
Josie, 85, a retired junior school teacher, said: “This is something we didn’t ever envisage. We always say we get more out of volunteering than we put in.
“We’ve done it for so long partly because of the variety of jobs we’ve had, and partly because of the lovely company and the lovely atmosphere.
“We’ve made so many friends amongst the staff, other volunteers, visitors and patients.
“We love attending the hospice’s volunteers’ garden party each year and we think the thanks we get is sufficient enough, but we do recognise that this award is an honour, and we’re very grateful.”
Josie and Joe decided to start helping out at the Lostock Hall hospice soon after it opened, after seeing a notice appealing for volunteers.
Josie says: “Joe worked outside quite a bit and did all sorts of odd jobs, including making props for the drama group, The Charity Players, who used to perform at the Charter Theatre.
“He came home once with a bird box which he ended up making into a cuckoo clock! Another job he came home with was to make hat stands for the charity’s bridal shop in Preston.
“He’s also made wooden novelty gifts for the Christmas fayre.”
She added: “I did kitchen work and spent time working in the laundry – I even remember pegging washing out one evening in the yard where the caretaker’s cottage used to be.”
Joe, also 85, who used to work for Leyland Motors, is on reception now and Josie looks after the gift shop in reception on Thursday evenings. She also attends a craft group and makes greetings cards, with the proceeds going to St Catherine’s.
“Joe and I also help with the ‘mail-order’ Christmas cards and I enter names in the Book of Remembrance which is in the chapel,” she added. “I used to hand-write the Light Up A Life tributes but that became a full time job, so the computer has taken over that one.
“Things have changed dramatically since we started – the number of extensions has been quite amazing, and some of the jobs we used to do are no longer needed. Things have progressed, but the patients still get the loving care they always have, and I’m sure that will never change.”
Stephen Greenhalgh, chief executive of St Catherine’s Hospice, thanked the couple for their commitment to the charity. He said: “Joe and Josie are wonderful volunteers who have both served St Catherine’s Hospice for over 30 years.
“They epitomise everything that St Catherine’s stands for as considerate, caring and dedicated ambassadors for the charity. Joe and Josie are good-hearted people who put others before themselves and have always been ready to help again and again and again.
“It is a rare privilege to work with people like Joe and Josie and although they never seek reward, I am delighted that they have been able to enjoy this special day where their efforts for others were recognised. We are also most grateful to the League of Mercy with whom we hold shared values in volunteering.”
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