Warkworth Wellsford Hospice volunteer Val Aston started volunteering for hospice after experiencing the service’s support firsthand when her husband was ill with cancer.
“When he died, I knew I wanted to give back,” she says.
Last week, Val’s 25-year service to hospice was recognised with a special award during a ceremony celebrating the service and dedication of a number of volunteers and staff.
“I’ve loved every minute that I’ve been with hospice,” Aston said. “Every patient has taught me something and you get to share some magic moments. I have received much more than I have ever given.”
Hospice chief executive Jan Nichols said Val had an enormous heart and her contribution to the community went well beyond hospice.
“I believe you started with us as a home visitor, but then switched to become the Catering Queen. Since then, you have been working behind the scenes at every hospice function I can remember.”
The ceremony was chaired by hospice coordinator Louisa Christian and was attended by cultural advisor Matua John Marsden, Harbour Hospice Board chair Ann Tod, and advisory board members Shona Pickup and David Scott.
Several speakers recognised the challenges hospice had faced during the pandemic, with a universal wish that this was now in the past.
“It’s been a long haul, caring for our patients and their families during this time,” Christian said. “We don’t often get the time to stop and reflect on the huge difference you [volunteers] are making to the lives of these families through what you do.”
In the last year, 1200 Harbour Hospice volunteers gave the charity 172,000 hours of their time, skills and energy, which equates to $3.4 million worth of people power, based on minimum wage. Their support enabled Harbour Hospice to care for 1298 patients and their families.
Other award recipients were:
Warkworth Wellsford shops: 20 years – Heather Schollum; 15 years – Penny Fawcett, Carol Hood, Karen Parker, Joy Buckby; five years – Allison Milne, Carol Gray, Pamela Sharman and Diane Kelly.
Garage sales: 15 years – Barbara Sadgrove; 10 years – Kaya Sara; five years – Michael Hand, Eva Crosswell, Linda Graham, Frank Bland and the late Robert Montague.
Life stories: 15 years – Chris Powell.
Other: Five years – Grace Donaldson (reception), Sara Lewis (advisory board), Beverley Aves (reception), Suzette Mayes (catering).
Staff: Five years – Sam Gray and Clare Fransen.