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(3rd July) St Oswald’s Children and Young Adults Service is celebrating 15 years since they first opened their doors.

To celebrate the big birthday, volunteers and staff at the Hospice are sharing some of their favourite memories over the last 15 years.

David Barlow, from Gosforth, is one of the Hospice’s volunteers who has been a member of the team since the service opened in 2003. With over 1200 volunteers, they are a huge part of the Hospice team and St Oswald’s couldn’t provide the outstanding care and support to North East families without them.

David tells us more:

“I began volunteering after I retired as a teacher and never thought that 15 years later I’d still be here. I came in for a tour to see the Unit and then that was it!

“I come in on a Sunday and the tasks I do are dependent on the child or young adult’s needs. It can be anything from helping a child and their sibling to create a wall display, bouncing a ball or reading a book for someone to fall asleep to. I also help out the unit with general tasks such as restocking the kitchen”

Talking more about why he volunteers at the Hospice, David continues:

“Having been a volunteer for 15 years you get to know quite a few of the families  who come for short breaks which is lovely. Last week one of the children we care for was able to sit up by herself for the first time, which was a huge achievement for her. To be able to witness it was priceless and that’s what I love about volunteering here.

“As well as all that, the staff are genuinely interested in their volunteers and I am treated as part of the team.”

When asked about a memory that stands out over the years, David said:

“There are so many great memories but there is one in particular that stands out. A few years ago we had a child who came to us for end of life care. He stayed with us for about nine months and against all odds went home. For me, that truly reinforces that it’s not just care we provide at St Oswald’s, its love.”

Volunteering at the Children’s Unit has led to David taking up additional volunteer roles in the Hospice, such as leading reminiscence sessions within their day care service to adult patients, and becoming an ambassador for the Hospice delivering talks on behalf of their Fundraising Team.

To find out more about volunteering at St Oswald’s, and the current volunteer opportunities visit www.stoswaldsuk.org/volunteering

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