Liz has been one of our garden volunteers for five years but, since the coronavirus outbreak, she has been supporting Trinity in more ways than one.

“The main reason I started volunteering was that my husband, Paul, had been an outpatient and an inpatient at Trinity. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in May 2011 and he died in February 2014. He wasn’t the type of chap who would join groups, but he came to lots of the outpatient classes and it really gave him great comfort. The last five weeks of his life he was a resident at the hospice and I stayed there for the entire five weeks with my three children, each of them alternating in the bedroom with us until his last week when we all spent the entire week there.

“Trinity was superb. We were treated like we were in cotton wool and we were cared for wonderfully. I could sit there, hold his hand, and watch tennis on the TV without the worry. It was like being on a weird sort of holiday in a hotel because we were so well looked after.

I was afraid of hospices and I didn’t really like him going there, but when I found out what a positive place it was, I was completely converted. At Trinity, he was treated like a hero for being alive that day, it’s a completely different mindset compared to what you see anywhere else. Everyone was just so positive and respectful of him, and all of us. If you were having a bad day, the doctors and nurses would sit and talk to you until you felt okay again. You could never thank them enough for what they were doing for you.

“At the beginning, I just wanted to give something back to Trinity. I had some bereavement counselling and I said how I would like to volunteer on the wards. It was suggested to me to start in the gardens and when I did, I absolutely loved it. Paul loved the garden too. He would come to his classes and then have a wander round. I absolutely love volunteering there, it gives me a sort of link to Trinity, and to Paul, to help give something back, but I really feel that I could never give enough.

We have the new greenhouse at Trinity, which is just so flash, it’s like Kew Gardens! At the start of the year we planted seedlings to either plant in the gardens or to sell on the National Garden Scheme Open Days. Of course, the Open Days haven’t been happening, and we didn’t have enough volunteers to plant them all, so I asked if I could sell some to fundraise. It just made sense. I didn’t want the seedlings to go to waste and saw it as an opportunity to raise money for the hospice, so it was win:win all round.

“When I started telling people we were selling them, they were all really pleased to hear it. Of course, none of the garden centres were open, and with the weather being so nice, everyone wants to be out in the garden. I did a socially distanced home delivery as well. I’d bring my car into Trinity, load it up, drive to someone’s house and leave them on the step. When they’d come out, they’d choose their plants, transfer the money to me and I’d donate it to Trinity’s Urgent Appeal. My neighbours had them, people in my tennis club, even my PT came along and picked some up. It was nice to do something for the people who are stuck at home. I could see the joy it would bring to people’s lives by picking out their new plants and knowing they’re helping out the hospice too. It was really fulfilling to do, to have some sort of purpose in this time.

                                  

“We’ve finished fundraising now and the rest of the plants are going into the pots at the end of the Inpatient Centre. Overall, I sold about 200 plants and raised £213 pounds. Some people would give me extra money as a donation which was really nice of them.

“It wasn’t just me involved in this. Lots of us were involved in planting the seeds, transferring them to bigger pots as they grew, and tending to other areas of the garden. Although I ended up selling them, it really was a team effort.

“Since I’ve known Trinity, my idea of hospices has completely changed. They are such positive places and such happy places considering what’s going on. Through volunteering with the hospice, I’ve met loads of lovely people and I’ve tried to change other people’s opinions of hospices too. My three girls and I were all treated with such respect and kindness all the time. Trinity are incredible and I’m a real champion of their work, so if I can give back in any way I do so.

Volunteering at trinity

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