Sisters in their 70s return to volunteer at Derian House Children’s Hospice 30 years after their first shift
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Susan Sidebotham and Gillian Summerfield from Chorley, arrived at Derian House Children’s Hospice in 1993 as two of the charity’s first ever volunteers.
The sisters eventually said goodbye to the hospice due to work and family commitments, but returned in October this year – during the hospice’s 30th anniversary year – to pick up where they left off, helping out for just a few hours a week with cleaning, washing up, and preparing food in the kitchen for the hospice families.
The pair first heard about Derian House when the hospice was being built and went along when it had opened to see if they needed any volunteering help.
Retired civil servant Susan, 77, said: “My sister and I had our very own tabards. I remember that we sewed little motifs onto them – mine had a teddy bear on and Gill’s had a clown.
“The hospice was much smaller back then and not quite as modern – I remember that it was fully carpeted. But I would say that the sensory room today is still as relaxing as I remember the original room to be.
“In the end, we made the decision to leave Derian House due to our other commitments with work and family at the time. It is only now, so many years on, and I saw that the hospice was looking to recruit some new volunteers. We’re retired now, so I said to my sister – let’s have a go! And here we are, after all these years.
“I think that it is absolutely marvelous that Derian House has been helping families for 30 years. I hope I can volunteer here for quite some time.”
Susan and Gill fit their volunteering hours in around their busy lifestyles – taking care of grandchildren and going to the gym.
Also a retired civil servant, Gill, 71, added: “I wanted to volunteer at Derian because I had young daughters at the time and I felt I wanted to give something back.
"There is such a lovely atmosphere at Derian House because everyone is so friendly and welcoming. I think a lot of people hear ‘hospice’ and automatically think it is a sad place, but it’s a wonderful happy place. I think it’s fantastic that the hospice is still here for families after it first opened 30 years ago.”
Welcoming their return, Frances Lees, Volunteer Services Coordinator at Derian House, said: “It’s fantastic that Susan and Gill have decided to return to support the families of Derian House all these years later – and during our 30th anniversary year too! They are both fantastic volunteers, we are very lucky to have them.”
Derian House, based in Chorley, cares for more than 400 babies, children, young people and their families from across the north west and is all day, every day. www.derianhouse.co.uk
To find out more about volunteering at Derian House click HERE.