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Why I volunteer: “Because I have made lots of friends”

Author: Mike Howden
11 September 2017

After a long career in advertising and marketing at the Grimsby Telegraph, Mike Howden has been volunteering at St Andrew’s Hospice in Grimsby for the last four years. He helps out once a week at Appetite, the hospice’s restaurant. Here he tells us how much he enjoys this role.

A good friend of mine was a volunteer at the hospice and she encouraged me to join. Fortunately I had not needed to use the hospice for health or family reasons, so I had never stepped foot in here before – and I was immediately bowled over at what an amazing place it is.

I suppose we all have preconceptions about the C word and dying, and hospices. St Andrew’s is there for the sad times, but it is also about so much more.

Extraordinary things happen here. There are things like farm visits and days out for the younger patients at Andy’s, and regular visits from therapy dogs. A supporter brought his pet owls in to see people, and a group exhibited creepy crawlies too. Recently, a couple renewed their wedding vows and I was very touched when I heard of that. These magical little touches make the hospice very unique, and speaking generally, people do not realise these things happen.

I have made lots of friends since joining, and I have met people from all walks of life. We have so much fun and I wish I had got involved sooner.

Raising funds is a mountain to climb. It is tough out there and there are many charities competing with each other for a small share. We need regular income to keep services going, and the hospice constantly needs to be maintained or updated. The public are amazingly generous.

I have watched the new building go up and I could not believe the size of it. We were allowed a tour before it officially opened and there were tears in my eyes, because it is awesome. It is like a five-star hotel.

The people of North East Lincolnshire and the surrounding area should be so proud of what they have here, and I would urge everyone to come and see for themselves. It is such a magical, happy and very special place.

For more information St Andrews

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