This Hospice Care Week (9th-15th October) St Oswald’s Hospice is thanking the North East community for their support over the last 30 years.

As Hospice Care Week comes to a close, St Oswald’s thanks the people who have supported the charity and made it the place it is today. St Oswald’s wouldn’t exist without the community; they were built by the community, and can only sustain their work because of the community.

The North East community support St Oswald’s in many ways, including by volunteering at the Hospice, and at their 28 shops. Approximately 1,200 local people give up their time volunteer for them on a regular basis, offering skills, experience and expertise to every department within the Hospice.

To demonstrate the contribution volunteers make, St Oswald’s has calculated an approximate equivalent cost to the organisation. If they had to pay for the additional support that volunteers provide, at the national living wage, it would be an added cost of £1.123million.

Pat Blaylock, from Gosforth, recently retired from her role as IT volunteer at St Oswald’s Hospice at the grand age of 90.  Pat joined the Hospice over 26 years ago so not only was she one of their oldest volunteers, she was also one of their longest serving.

Pat said:

“In 1998 my husband and I returned to live in the UK after being in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  I initially volunteered elsewhere for a while and worked in a shop in Gosforth but knew I wanted to return to nursing.

“Whist working in the shop based on the High Street one of my colleagues suggested volunteering at the Hospice.  At that time I had no clue what a hospice was and certainly hadn’t heard of St Oswald’s.  We looked the word ‘hospice’ up in the dictionary and found that in France it meant ‘home’.  That sounded good to me so I went to visit St Oswald’s and applied to be a volunteer nurse.”

Pat originally joined the Hospice back in 1991 as a volunteer nurse on the inpatient unit and also worked on reception at weekends.  Pat continued:

“After 12 years of working on the inpatient ward my husband died so I decided to change roles and take on a new challenge.  There was an opportunity to join to the IM&T Team so I started going to IT night classes and gained my qualifications so I was able to help the team and the hospice staff and volunteers with IT issues.

“Once I turned 90 I decided it was time to retire from the Hospice.  St Oswald’s really is a lovely place and I enjoyed my time there.” 

Darren Harvey, IM&T Manager at St Oswald’s said:
“Pat will be a big miss in the IT Team, she was an inspiration and valued member of the team.  Pat developed many databases that are still in use today before working with the team on our patient information system.  Pat was never phased by IT and was always up for a challenge. 

“At one point Pat even held the highest IT qualifications in the whole of St Oswald’s!  This was a massive achievement in itself but the fact she was well into her 80’s when doing her qualifications makes it even more amazing.

“On behalf of St Oswald’s, I’d like to thank the community for all they do for the Hospice. St Oswald’s is a volunteering organisation and without the support and commitment of our volunteers we could not provide the vital hospice services we do to local people and families. ”