Volunteers at St. Margaret’s Hospice were thanked for their dedication at festive lunches in Yeovil and Taunton.

It was a particularly special occasion as 34 volunteers who started when our Yeovil hospice opened in 2003 were presented with certificates to mark 15 years of service.

The charity has 188 volunteers who help in a variety of roles at the hospice in Little Tarrat Lane, including reception, gardening and maintenance, bereavement support, spiritual care, fundraising and admin.

Head chef Martin Berry and the hospice catering team served a delicious Christmas lunch for more than 100 volunteers over two days.

Averil Perrett, voluntary services coordinator at St. Margaret’s Hospice, said: “In the 15 years our Yeovil hospice has been open, our volunteers here have given us over 400,000 hours. That’s an amazing effort and we simply couldn’t do our job caring for people facing a life-limiting illness without the work of our volunteers.

“We like to thank all of them at this time of year, but this year is particularly special with the 15th anniversary of the hospice opening. The fact that more than half of our original 63 volunteers are still involved 15 years later is testament to their dedication. Many of them have become good friends, and they all enjoy contributing to the vital work of the hospice.”

Volunteers shared their memories for a special wall display, while a tree was decorated with messages of thanks from hospice staff.

Among the volunteers recognised for 15 years’ service was Marion Hemborough, 91, who spends one morning a week arranging flowers which have been donated to the hospice.

She said: “It’s one of my regular routines and I enjoy coming in. When you take the flowers round you have lovely chats with the patients. Everyone appreciates having the flowers around the place, and it brightens up the ward.

“We have all continued volunteering for so long because we enjoy the company and it’s a good cause to help with. I will miss it if I can’t get here one day.”

Reception volunteer Sue Main said: “When I retired from nursing I wanted to volunteer for the hospice because I feel there is such a need for palliative care and it’s so essential that it keeps going. It’s a really nice place to be and you feel that you are doing something to help.”

Ward volunteers help the nursing team with tasks such as preparing lunch trays, serving hot drinks and interacting with patients and their families.

Peter Egan, who is one of the Yeovil ward volunteers, started as a reception volunteer in 2003. He said: “You are giving something of yourself to someone who perhaps hasn’t got a lot of time left. Some patients are just in need of a kind word or a chat.

“It’s amazing the number of volunteers who give their time, and they wouldn’t if they didn’t enjoy it. We all find it rewarding.

“I would definitely recommend volunteering here. It’s fun, and the hospice is a very friendly and compassionate place. While some things have changed over the years, the basic ethos is the same and I don’t think that care and attention will ever change.”

Last year St. Margaret’s Hospice supported more than 3,800 people affected by life-limiting illnesses across Somerset. More than 1,200 volunteers help the charity to care for people at the end of their lives.

For more information about volunteering, visit www.st-margarets-hospice.org.uk/volunteering or call 01935 709480.