East Lancashire Hospice

Volunteer Tommy gets recognition he deserves

Nobody at East Lancashire Hospice was surprised when Tommy Topping was nominated and then won the Environmental Award at the Community Volunteer Awards evening.

Tommy found out about the nomination six weeks before the official event which was held the King George’s Hall on November 3rd. He initially ignored the email; he does not work to seek the limelight, but our Head of Facilities encouraged him to complete the paperwork.

“I don’t expect anything for the work I do, so didn’t really want recognition.” Tommy explained.

Tommy has been a mainstay of the hospice for over eleven years, maintaining our gardens and supporting the maintenance team around the hospice. Today he was helping to put up the Christmas lights. He comes in five days a week and with Angie, another volunteer, they work hard on the extensive gardens. “We could do with another five volunteers - just for a couple of hours a week to help with the gardens,” he hinted.

The awards evening at King George’s Hall was hosted by Graham Liver from BBC Radio Lancashire with over 500 people in attendance to celebrate the hard work of the community volunteers in the area, all of whom deserve recognition for their unstinting efforts.

Tommy who lives in Blackburn had sold his business and was enjoying retirement travelling with his wife Rita. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer three years after Tommy retired, and passed away just ten days after diagnosis. Her last days were spent at East Lancashire Hospice.

“The treatment and care she received in the short time was first class. My wife and I were able to spend time in the garden, and the garden gave me the chance to have some time alone and gather my thoughts, have reflection time and my own space.”

That was when he decided to volunteer for the hospice.

Tommy celebrated his 80th birthday here at the hospice, surrounded by his friends amongst the staff and other volunteers who value his dedication, and later with his family for a celebratory meal.

“Why do I volunteer? Why would I be sat at home watching day-time telly when I can be at the hospice, putting my skills to good use, putting a smile on peoples’ faces? I enjoy what I am doing, having conversations with other people and working as part of the team with the hospice staff. I am also keeping fit whilst making new friendships. But I also continue to volunteer because of the pleasure the gardens give to all users. That is what makes it all worthwhile.”

Hilary Barrett CEO also applauded all our volunteers but in particular Tommy. “The time and talent of our volunteers are crucial to provide support to the hospice. Each and every one deserves recognition. We know volunteers like Tommy don’t give their time to be thanked, so it is wonderful when The Community Volunteer Awards recognises them on our behalf.

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