Hospital trust to honour 'incredible' 94-year-old volunteer

Volunteer awards

A 94-year-old volunteer who has dedicated 30 years to helping staff and patients at Southampton’s university hospitals will be among those honoured at a long service ceremony tomorrow (Thursday, 5 December).

Ivy Abraham, who will turn 95 on Christmas Eve and is currently University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust’s oldest volunteer, will receive a 30-year award for services to the surgical outpatient department.

The former Royal Navy servicewoman and ex-county rifle shooting champion comes in from 10am to 2pm twice a week – which involves catching two buses to reach Southampton General Hospital – to help staff complete administrative tasks.

“Ivy never fails to stop and tell me how much she enjoys meeting staff, patients and visitors and simply getting on well with them and she’s keen to try out new jobs despite her tender age,” said Kim Sutton, voluntary services manager at UHS.

“This attitude is typical of our volunteers and highlights what an advantage they are to us. She is an incredible woman – an inspiration to us all.”

A total of 62 volunteers with 743 years of service in a variety of roles, 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.

They include John Young and Ken Holloway, who will be each be recognised for 40 years with Southampton Hospital Radio, and 82-year-old Karla Gunn, who will receive an award for 54 years of service at UHS.

Karla, 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. 

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

The service, which will be presented by Trust chairman John Trewby and the Mayor of Southampton Cllr Ivan White, will also highlight the important role of volunteer interpreters, with a special award for physiotherapist and Polish interpreter Anna Basisty, who balances her role as a staff member with being one of the hospital’s most called on interpreters.

Ms Sutton added: “I am really looking forward to bringing so many of our loyal, committed and passionate volunteers together in one room to celebrate their remarkable achievements and reflect on their enthusiasm to help others.

“The variety of roles, the range of ages and the stories behind each and every one of them makes for such an inspirational annual event and this year will be no exception.”

The long service awards, which coincide with International Volunteer Day, will take place tomorrow (Thursday, 5 December) at 2pm in the Heartbeat Education Centre lecture theatre (level F), Southampton General Hospital.

Posted on Wednesday 4 December 2013

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