‘Rowans Hospice cared for my sister and my mum – now I’m volunteering to give something back’
Maureen Tett from Southsea has volunteered for the Rowans for more than 11 years. She was awarded the prestigious League of Mercy’s ‘Order of Mercy’ medal in July 2018 for her dedication and valuable contribution. Here she shares what motivates her to give up her time.
My first experience of the Rowans was through my sister, Jan Goodwin. who was cared for there in 2007. Immediately I realised how amazing it was that we had this service which was given totally free.
My sister was in her mid-60s and she actually came to stay three times during her illness. Every time she was in, my brother-in-law was able to stay overnight so he could be there for her.
When all of us - me, my mum Rosa Knapp, her family and grandchildren - came in, we all felt very at home. The staff and volunteers looked after all of us; I recall little things, like bringing in ice lollies for the children, which meant so much.
It was in June 2008, a few days after my sister died, that there was a piece in the newspaper about the Rowans holding its first Moonlit Memories Walk, saying ‘is there anybody who would like to volunteer to do the event?’
So I rang up. On June 21, just a few weeks after my sister had died, I was helping out at the walk. Ever since then I have been volunteering for the Rowans and have helped at as many of the events as possible.
My involvement with the Rowans increased after my mother died. I appreciated how fortunate we had been to receive the Rowans’ support again.
Things had been particularly tricky with my mum as, in addition to having terminal cancer, she had dementia. However I knew she was safe when she came into the Rowans. And she thought the place was fantastic - she loved the fact that her dog Cuejo could come in and visit.
She especially loved the fact the chef would come round to see what she wanted and, if she didn’t like anything on the menu, he would prepare her a meal she liked.
Not only did the Rowans help my mum, but Gemima from the psychology team really helped me to come to terms with her death and the issues that it brought up. She was so very easy to talk to and really nice.
My mum’s death left a large gap. Before my life was full 24/7, working part-time and caring for her every other minute of the day. My son did say to me ‘mum, you’re getting old, you need to look after yourself’. However I need to be involved in something as I find it quite hard just sitting around. Supporting the Rowans filled this gap.
In addition to the events, I started to help out in the hospice. I help out when they need extra cover on the reception at the weekend or in the evenings. Every week I also volunteer on the switchboard.
I appreciate how important it is when people contact us they are greeted with warmth and friendliness. I have been in similar situation to many of the people ringing. You feel and recognise their distress. Sometimes they just need someone to listen to them. If I am able to and the phones aren’t busy, I will.
Last year I became a Hospice Ambassador, which means I go out and talk to different community groups about the hospice and the range of care it provides. Trying to dispel the myth that it is a place you go to die!
Doing this means I get to meet some wonderful and really interesting people, representing the hospice to receive cheques and donations.
As a family we have all done what we can to thank the Rowans. My brother-in-law ran the London Marathon twice in aid of the Rowans, raising over £5k. My niece’s husband did a cycle ride from John O’Groats to Land’s End. I am simply giving up some of my spare time and will continue to do this because I want to know that other people will be able to get the same amazing help and support we had as a family.
Today you can help make sure that anyone in our community will be able to get the same amazing help and support that Maureen’s family did. Simply donate or pledge to do one thing for Rowans Silver Jubilee Appeal at silverjubilee.rowanshospice.co.uk. Together as community we can prepare our hospice for the future.