A St Nicholas Hospice Care service which began in Haverhill in 2011 and helps to make living with dying better for people in their own homes was presented with the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service on Tuesday (Oct 6).
Hospice Neighbours helps 120-150 people at any given time, with volunteers providing companionship and assisting with household tasks that can feel overwhelming when you are unwell.
While the service was told in June it had won the award, which celebrates excellence in voluntary activities carried out by community groups, the Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk officially presented it this week.
Clare, Countess of Euston, visited a reception at Ravenwood Hall Hotel, in Rougham, to hand over an etched crystal trophy and certification from Buckingham Palace.
Addressing the reception, Lady Euston said: “It is an enormous pleasure to be here. As you all know the Hospice is very close to my heart for all sorts of reasons.
“It is absolutely extraordinary and remarkable that it should have won this award for the second time since it was inaugurated.
St Nicholas Hospice Care is the only charity in the county to have received this award, so to have won it twice is wonderful.”
The Hospice’s Nicky’s Way child bereavement programme was previously given the Queen’s Award in 2008.
“There is so much for people in this room to be deeply proud of,” added Lady Euston.
Barbara Gale, Hospice Chief Executive, said she was thrilled her idea for Hospice Neighbours had grown so much since it was launched in 2011 and that it had achieved recognition from Buckingham Palace.
“But this couldn’t have happened without all the hours people have put into Hospice Neighbours and, most of all, what people like you have put into making a difference to people’s lives,” she told the reception when receiving the award.
Hospice President Canon Richard Norburn said every Hospice Neighbours volunteer was doing a ‘fantastic job’.
“Hospice Neighbours is an incredibly marvellous scheme. It is restoring community life to communities – and that’s so important to life today,” he said.
“I find it humbling that so many people do so much for the Hospice.”
There are 167 Hospice Neighbours volunteers working in 20 teams across West Suffolk and Thetford, who between April 2013-April 2014 spent more than 5,400 hours visiting 321 patients.
During those visits 81 per cent of volunteers’ time was spent providing companionship, seven per cent on domestic tasks, including housework and gardening. They also supported patients by helping out with shopping, dog walking and complementary therapies.
The majority of patients – 60 per cent – have cancer, but patients could also have MND, diabetes, chronic renal failure, MS, heart disease, epilepsy, pulmonary fibrosis, COPD or dementia.