Volunteer Laurie Little brings a little light to the lives of our patients & families
“My father had what I describe as ‘a beautiful death’. It was New Year’s Day 1999 and we were gathered at his bedside at North London Hospice. My stepmother arrived and gave him a kiss; he flickered his eyes and drew his last breath. It was a storybook end.”
Laurie Little’s dad, Frederick, known to friends and family as Jack, had cancer of the kidneys and was cared for at home by nurses until the final three days of his life.
“I never realised that the nurses who came to his house were linked to the hospice. When it was decided that he would be admitted to the Hospice, it was a bit of a shock. The word Hospice felt almost sinister. You felt it was a place to go when you’d reached the end of the road, a place to die.
“But those thoughts are dispelled the minute you walk into either the Finchley unit or, now, the Health & Wellbeing Centre. We spent three days at Finchley with him and he was so well looked after, as were we all.
Following his death my partner and I thought it would be good to do something to help the Hospice, but we went back to work and it wasn’t until we retired that we seriouslythought about volunteering at the Hospice. I was busy with my church and helping at a local school, but I remembered the care we had experienced at North London Hospice and thought I’d like to be a part of it.”
North London Hospice relies on 980 volunteers to help it run its services. They are the backbone of our work and without them, we simply couldn’t operate.
Laurie and his partner of 44 years, Rod, started with our Palliative Care Support Service, where they visited patients at home and stayed with them for two or three hours to give carers a break.
Then came the opening of the Health & Wellbeing Centrein 2013 and they bothbecame regular volunteers at our Barrowell Green site. Both Laurie and Rod undertook our BLUE training and Laurie has gone onto complete his CRIMSON training, which enables him to have more interaction with our patients on the ward.
For four years Laurie spent time with patients and families on our in-patient unit at Finchley.
“I had the most amazing very deep conversations with patients and their loved ones, and you realise that it’s the hardest thing for both parties to let go. Everyone’s death experience or bereavement is unique. As a bereavement support volunteer I was there to support families, and no two experiences were the same.”
After eight years as one of our committed volunteers, Laurie now helps with our Ceremonies of Remembrance and Tribute Tree evenings and every Monday morning can be found on our 18-bed ward in Finchley, serving meals and drinks and ensuring the kitchen is stocked and spotless!
“When we joined as volunteers we didn’t know how we would help, and we’ve been on quite a journey. People say the care they receive makes them feel part of a family, and North London Hospice is certainly family to me.It gets into your very soul. The care and love you experience people giving shows a real depth of care and love for one’s fellow man.”