An Interview with Volunteer of the Year Award 2019 Winner, Mandy Preece13th January 2020
At the Unsung Hero Awards, we love celebrating all the hard work and achievements from the non-medical and non-clinical NHS Staff and Volunteers. What makes it even more special is being able to hear the stories of all our well-deserving winners and nominees in more detail.
Mandy Preece of The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust won the Volunteer of the Year Award at the 2019 Unsung Hero Awards. She made her mark when she started as a day centre volunteer in 2011, while developing an interest in supporting patients in the final stages of their life. Mandy then created a training package to support the huge array of end-of-life volunteers that emerged through her work, which was a massive success.
For this year’s event, Mandy told us more about her achievements and what she made of the awards.
What do you do in your role?
“I am a bedside companion volunteer at Macmillan Caring Locally (a palliative care unit in RBCH Hospital Trust, Dorset) offering compassionate support at the end of life. This can involve spending time with patients and their families, listening, holding a hand etc. If required I offer simple holistic support, i.e. teaching breathing techniques. I can give feedback to nursing staff on any matters of concern, and sit with people during their final hours so they don’t die alone. I also support families during the final days or afterwards (e.g. being with them when they collect their loved one’s personal items and/or the death certificate).
However, I think I was also nominated for piloting, setting up and training other volunteers to join me and form the bedside companion team. Every evening in the Unit is now covered by a volunteer, and volunteers are also available on-call if someone is dying alone.”
What was winning the Volunteer of the Year 2019 Award like?
“Nerve-wracking. I even managed to drop my award but luckily it was undamaged! I was so surprised. The other volunteers in my category were inspirational – I didn’t expect to win.”
What was the night itself like?
“It was really humbling and inspiring to see how so many people work tirelessly within the NHS to make a difference to patient care. It is wonderful that the Unsung Hero Awards promote these untold stories.”
What attributes would one need to be an Unsung Hero?
“I think everyone in the NHS is a hero. Being a part of the NHS team, you get to see the love, care and dedication people give – whether they are a staff member or a volunteer.”
What would you say was your biggest achievement in the role?
“I am really thrilled to see the bedside companion team flourish, and I am also hugely proud of my UHA Award. This opened the door to me being part of Helpforce Steering Group, as well as giving me an opportunity to look more closely at volunteer roles within the NHS. But to be honest, it’s the aspects of the role that mean the most – seeing a patient smile, hearing patients’ stories and, of course, being able to be at the bedside when someone is dying.”
What does it mean for you to be one of our Unsung Heroes?
“I am very grateful for the award. It has enabled me to provide a voice to the value of volunteers within the NHS and promote the tremendous work that they do.”
You can follow Mandy and The Royal Bournemouth NHS Foundation Trust on social media and if you haven’t already, grab your Buy One Get One Free ticket now to support the amazing individuals like Mandy at this year’s UHAs.
Written by Lily Harrison | Freelance Content Writer