Therapy dogs among hundreds of volunteers honoured by hospital trust

PAT dog of the year with baby

Two pet dogs stole the show at an awards ceremony for volunteers at Southampton’s teaching hospitals.

Golden retriever Leo and border collie Heti were among more than 250 volunteers honoured for their service to University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.

The pair, along with their owners Lyndsey Uglow and Sue Cole, were recognised for helping to improve patients’ hospital experiences through weekly ward visits as part of the Pets as Therapy (PAT) programme.

Leo, who receives more requests for visits than any other volunteer, received a special award – consisting of a certificate in the shape of a bone – for a year which saw him nominated for national PAT dog of the year.

Meanwhile Heti, whose owner Sue received a 10-year award for voluntary service with both border collie Cognac and now Heti, picked up a bone certificate to mark her first voluntary service awards ceremony as the hospital trust’s most recent PAT dog recruit.

Members of many organisations within UHS, such as the League of Friends, Radio Lollipop, Talking Echo and Southampton Hospital Radio, as well as those who carry out a variety of support roles, including interpreters, mealtime assistants, the chaplaincy and hospital guides, were in attendance to celebrate a total of 2,145 years of service from 258 individuals.

Karla Gunn, 83, who came to the UK from Germany after the Second World War and began her hospital career in 1951, collected a lifetime achievement award for 55 years with the organisation as both a cleaner and volunteer.

She moved to the Stanley Graveson ward in 1959 and returned as a volunteer within days of retirement. 

To the delight of patients, families and staff, the hospital remains an essential part of her life and she still visits three days a week to talk to patients, thrash out some light-hearted orders to the nursing team and collect prizes for patient quizzes on the medicine for older people wards.

There was a special presentation for Mark Kinch, who volunteers his time four days a week as the team’s ‘runner’ for almost any task. His current responsibilities include carrying a bleep for the bereavement team, delivering information to patients and staff, putting up posters and helping to organise voluntary service events all year round.

In addition, 18-year-old Grace Chaplin, was named volunteer of the year for conducting patient surveys, training and mentoring other young students, leading an alcohol awareness campaign for the hospital and developing an e-newsletter to retain links with student volunteers who have left for university – all in less than 18 months.

She was also recently unveiled as one of the country’s 50 #iwill ambassadors, a project set up by the charity Step Up To Serve that aims to make social action part of life for as many 10 to 20 year olds as possible by 2020.

The ceremony also provided an opportunity to mark the recent passing of some of the trust’s most loyal volunteers, including Reg Lowman, who completed 65 years of service, 102-year-old Hilda Kemp, children’s outpatients stalwart Winston Crosby and Paul Cantlie, a volunteer in the laryngectomy clinic and former UHS governor. 

Kim Sutton, voluntary services manager at UHS, said: “As an organisation, we are extremely proud of the outstanding clinical work we do, but we are also immensely proud of our 1,096 volunteers who feel so passionately about this trust that they give up the most precious thing they have – their time.

“Our volunteers are part of the core of our workforce and help us to provide the best possible services to our patients and visitors. We are all truly humbled by the dedication and commitment of every single volunteer and I am delighted we have been able to celebrate so many successes.”

The awards were presented by the Mayor of Southampton Councillor Sue Blatchford and UHS chairman John Trewby. 

Posted on Wednesday 10 December 2014