Two volunteers honoured for 105 years at hospital trust

Two volunteers who have dedicated a combined 105 years to helping patients at Southampton’s teaching hospitals will be among those honoured at a long service ceremony on Monday (5 December).

Reg Lowman, who opened the first League of Friends shop at Southampton General Hospital in a portacabin in 1964, will receive a 55-year award, while Karla Gunn, who joined as a cleaner in neurosciences and became a volunteer the day she retired ten years ago, will be commended for her 50-year milestone.

A total of 76 volunteers with 810 years of service in a variety of roles at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, including taking patient feedback on the wards, stocking the League of Friends shop, guiding visitors, running the tea bar and broadcasting on Southampton Hospital Radio, will be recognised at the event.

Reg, 82, of Bitterne, Southampton, who was awarded an MBE in 2000 for services to the Trust, raised funds for privacy curtains for patients within weeks of starting his role in 1956 before going on to become chairman, vice-president and president of the League – and is still present behind the till two days a week.

Meanwhile Karla, 80, who became the first cleaner to add baking apple strudel to the job role after stunning doctors and nurses with her culinary skills, came to the UK from Germany after the Second World War and began her hospital career in 1951.

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 and thrash out some light-hearted orders to the nursing team.

“I treat all of the team as my children and I love them all,” said Karla. “Everyone here is wonderful and I appreciate everything they do for me as much as I do for them – they give me a chance to spend time in a place that means so much to me.”

There will also be a special award for patient and volunteer Paul Cantile, 77, of Droxford, who has been nominated by the head, neck and throat team for his support in raising the profile of laryngeal cancer and improving standards in care across the world.

His work has involved holding lectures for patients and staff, writing a service guide for the UK and some European countries and regularly participating in the head, neck and throat South Coast Cancer Network team meetings.

Kim Sutton, voluntary services manager at UHSFT, said: “This year will be an extremely poignant one for me and the many staff who are touched by the efforts these people go to to make our hospitals a better place for the thousands of people coming through the doors every day.

“We will see and hear some amazing stories of passion, enthusiasm and loyalty and I sincerely hope all 76 volunteers take just a few minutes during the event to reflect on the magnificent job they do.”

The long service awards, which coincide with International Volunteer Day, will take place on Monday (5 December) at 2pm in the chapel (level D), Southampton General Hospital.

Posted on Friday 2 December 2011