Interview with Volunteer of the Year 2019 Winner Mandy Preece3rd February 2020
At the Unsung Hero Awards, we love celebrating all the hard work and achievements from the Non-Medical/Non-Clinical NHS Staff and Volunteers, and what’s even more special is when we get to hear in detail the stories of all our well-deserving nominees and winners.
Mandy Preece is from The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (RBCH) and she also won the Volunteer of the Year Award at the 2019 Unsung Hero Awards.
Mandy put a stamp on her Trust when she started as a day centre volunteer in 2011 and developed an interest in supporting patients in the final stages of their life, saying that “the patients have been my teacher.” Mandy then became so valuable that a huge team of end-of-life volunteers were established as she created a training package to support end of life volunteers, which was a massive success.
Mandy told us more about her achievements and what she made of winning an Unsung Hero Award in 2019.
Hi Mandy, 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: sitting with patients and their families, listening, holding a hand, offering simple holistic support, i.e. teaching breathing techniques, giving feedback to Nursing staff on any matters of concern, or signposting to chaplaincy, sitting with people during their final hours so they don’t die alone, supporting 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. We now have every evening in the Unit 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 so 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 UHA promotes 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 staff or volunteer.”
What would you say was your biggest achievement in the role?
“I am really thrilled to see the Bedside Companion Team flourish and for my UHA Award, which opened the door to me being part of a Helpforce Steering Group looking 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, offering 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 give voice to the value of volunteers within the NHS and promote the tremendous work of all volunteers.”
You can follow Mandy on Twitter and if you haven’t already, grab your Buy One Get One Free ticket to support the amazing individuals like Mandy across all categories at this year’s Unsung Hero Awards.
Lily Harrison, Social Media Intern at Unsung Hero Awards