No doubt many of our readers will have had cause to visit St Mary’s Hospital over the years. From being born at the Milton site, to having been an in-patient or visiting a loved one.
What you may not have noticed is the dozens of volunteers who work diligently away in the shops and cafes at the hospital for the group League of Friends.
The group was founded almost 70 years ago to support the work of the hospital by fundraising for medical equipment.
But actually, they do so much more than that.
The St Mary’s Hospital Friends go quietly about their roles in the cafes, shops and giving directions to patients, and with that they offer a friendly word or a comforting smile.
For many, visiting hospital can be a daunting experience so a reassuring word from one of the volunteers behind the till at the cafe can make the world of difference.
St Mary’s hasn’t been as busy since many of the services were moved elsewhere in 2011.
But that hasn’t stopped the volunteers putting in the hours to ensure they reach their target of £100,000 a year.
It’s an incredible amount of money that the hospital can put towards saving and enhancing lives.
The motivation for the volunteers is the opportunity of giving something back to the NHS which has looked after them all their lives – and will continue to do so.
But there is something more there. Most of the volunteers are retired and with retirement can come loneliness.
Wonderful friendships have been formed between volunteers who share a common goal of helping the community.
And it feels good to support other people. Hospitals can be cold, stark places but the League of Friends add warmth.
Their kindness makes all the difference.
What a great bunch.