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Why volunteer? Ask heart attack survivor Mary
05 June 2018

A volunteer who gives up her time to support staff and patients at Ipswich Hospital has described the enjoyment she gains from helping out and encouraged others with a few hours to spare to follow her lead.

May Lal has spoken out about her work in national volunteers’ week (1 – 7 June), which gives people the chance to thank volunteers for the contribution they make.

Mary, who lives in Wickham Market, started volunteering at the hospital in 1997 to say thank you for the care she received after suffering a heart attack and undergoing a quintuple bypass operation five years before.

“They took such great care of me that I felt I had to give something back,” said Mary, who also works as an accountant. “In the 21 years which have passed since, I’ve worked all over the hospital, including in the children’s ward, school room, eye department and oncology unit. I now work on reception in cardiology where I welcome and check in patients and liaise with all the clinics within the department assisting staff and patients with admin issues. 

“I don’t know if I can put it into words why I enjoy volunteering so much. I think you just have to do it to experience the gratification. The hospital is like my second home – I look forward to going in every week and feel like I’ve missed out if I don’t go in for any reason. I enjoy every aspect of volunteering, but especially meeting patients and talking to them, particularly if they are apprehensive about any of the tests they will be having. I’ve been through them all so can tell them what to expect and offer them reassurance – I’ve had every test going and am still here to tell the tale!

“The staff are just brilliant – I love working with them. They are so caring, patient, tolerant and helpful to patients and I really admire them for what they do. They also take good care of me and I know they appreciate my input. I miss them when I’m not here – they are my heroes.

“I would recommend volunteering to anyone – it is one of the most satisfying and rewarding things you can do. There isn’t the same pressure as a paid job – when you leave, you don’t take the stress home with you. Because of that, I feel I can give more of myself – there are no demands on me, which frees me up to do more.”

Robbie Payne, voluntary service coordinator at the hospital, said: “Our volunteers provide greatly valued, additional support to our patients, their carers and our staff. They play an integral part in improving the experience which our patients have when coming to hospital and help make the lives of our hard-working staff easier every single day. Our thanks go to all of them.”

Ipswich Hospital would currently like to hear from anyone who may be interested in helping out in its outpatient clinics by welcoming patients, keeping them updated on how the clinic is running and providing admin support.

For more information, call Robbie on 01473 704473.