02/06/2023 | Press releases

Volunteers provide help and support through difficult times

Our brilliant volunteers tirelessly help our patients, visitors and staff on a daily basis.

They dedicate their time to us for many different reasons, but the thing that they all have in common is that they want to be able to support people and make a difference to their day, during what can be a very difficult time.

As the NHS approaches its 75th birthday we are sharing just a few of the stories of our volunteers who were born around the same time as the NHS began, or who were young children. If you would like to get involved with volunteering, click here to find out how

Peter and Helen Mockford

Peter and Helen Mockford wearing blue volunteer tshirts standing by a pond

Husband and wife team Peter and Helen Mockford have been regular volunteers at the entrance to Colchester Hospital for the last two years, walking up to six miles each shift to make sure that visitors and patients get the support that they need.

Between them they make sure that they personally walk with any visitors to departments such as critical care unit or the bereavement suite. For them, the best part about volunteering is to help people at what can be a stressful or distressing time.

Helen, 77, originally began volunteering for the League of Friends 16 years ago and Peter, 81,sat on the Trust board for around eight years. They also volunteered in the foyer of the Primary Care Centre before becoming volunteers at the main hospital.

The pair started volunteering to give something back to the NHS. Helen said: “The team at A&E has saved both of our lives and we wanted to say thank you and to help other people.

“The NHS is an essential and vital service for everyone.”

Mervyn Jenkins

Mervyn with his dog Amber sitting next to him

Former police officer Mervyn Jenkins, 75, has been taking therapy dog Amber to the children’s ward at Ipswich Hospital for the last six years, giving parents and staff the chance to pat her, stroke her and give her treats as a reward for being good.

Mervyn wanted to volunteer somewhere where he can make a difference, however small, to someone’s day.

He said the best bit about volunteering is getting out and meeting people from all walks of life. He said: “It makes me aware of how fortunate I am to be able to do the visits.”

Mona Howes, 84

Mona Howes stands outside the main entrance to the hospital

Mona began volunteering at Ipswich Hospital 27 years ago when her husband was suffering with Alzheimer’s. He was in respite care two days a week so she decided to dedicate that time to volunteering.

You’ll find her on a Thursday welcoming visitors at the south wards entrance but over the years, she has volunteered in a number of departments including maternity and gynaecology, the WVS shop, Foxhall Day surgery and the eye clinic.

For Mona the best bit about volunteering is meeting the staff and the people and being able to help them.

The NHS means everything to her and she said without them, she would not be here today after she suffered a cardiac arrest at home in November 2021.

Mona said: “I owe them my life. Had it not have been for the paramedic who resuscitated me and the brilliant team who were first to see me at hospital, I would not be here today.”

Bob Miller, 79

Bob Miller presenting his hospital radio show, sitting at a desk with a big microphone in front of him

Bob has been a regular fixture on Colchester Hospital Radio since 2009. He currently has a show at 6pm on Sundays and weekdays 10am to midday.

He joined the Hospital Radio team after spending four weeks in Colchester Hospital in 2003 while waiting to go to London for a heart operation. At that time a new system was being installed, so there was no radio available. Bob realised how boring being in hospital was and made up his mind to volunteer when he retired to make life better for others.

Bob uses his own experience to help reassure patients on the cardiac ward while on his rounds to collect requests. He also takes time to chat to patients who don’t have visitors.

He said “The NHS saved my life and my grandson spent two months in the special care baby unit in 2004. It’s nice to know it’s always there.”

Back to top