We’re saying ‘Bon Voyage’ to Margaret as she retires after 30 years at St Catherine’s
When Margaret Pennington began volunteering in Day Care at St Catherine’s, she never imaged that 30 years down the line she would have progressed to working as a nurse before spending her final working years greeting hospice visitors on reception.
Today, she retires following 21 years of caring for patients and nearly nine years offering a friendly welcome on the reception desk, and says it’s been a privilege to work for such a much-loved charity.
Margaret, a grandmother-of-two who lives in Farington, recalls: “I remember seeing an advert for volunteer vacancies at St Catherine’s in 1987, just a couple of years after it had opened, and I just really fancied it. I didn’t put my name down for anything in particular, and they had a spot in Day Therapy.
“I did every Friday, after dropping my two children off at school, and I’d walk there from home in Farington so it really suited me. It was a nice place to start at the hospice because you saw the same people every week for months.
“At the time, I worked at a rest home on nights, and then one of the sisters at St Catherine’s suggested I apply to go on ‘bank’ on nights at the hospice, to cover when nurses were on holiday or off sick. So in 1989 I got the permanent position of working two nights a week.
“I felt very privileged because the opportunity didn’t come up often, and I hadn’t initially considered doing anything like that when I first volunteered.”
She remembers her first night like it was yesterday, and was in good company as it was also Lorna Wastell’s first shift as a sister; who now works as a bank nurse on the inpatient unit and in Day Therapy.
“It was quite daunting,” Margaret says. “But I absolutely loved it!
“There were 10 beds, two trained nurses and an auxiliary nurse. Over time we got extra beds, staff and volunteers, and for 21 years I did the night shifts, which was 9.15pm to 7.45am.
“But seven years ago I had an accident whilst out walking and hurt my knee badly, which meant I couldn’t continue to be on my feet for too long. It was quite heart-breaking really and I didn’t know what was going to happen, but the director of care and HR manager were so supportive, and when a role became available on reception they wondered if I’d like to try that instead.
“I was used to speaking with patients and relatives because of my previous role, so I decided to go for it and I soon settled in and got used to the phone systems and got to know everyone across the hospice. I really have loved it.”
Margaret says one of the best parts of the job has been working alongside a wonderful team of dedicated volunteers.
“I’ll really miss them, they’re so lovely and they work really hard. You never know who’s going to come in through the door and I’ve made some great friends over the years,” she adds. “I’ll make sure to keep in touch and can meet up with people at The Mill for a coffee, cake and a catch-up!”
Margaret is now looking forward to spending her retirement gardening, walking, visiting her son in Australia, and holidaying in Greece and Sicily.
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