Hospice volunteer retires after 26 years

Syd Brailey saying farewell to staff and volunteers at the hospice.

Syd Brailey saying farewell to staff and volunteers at the hospice. - Credit: Archant

A former Royal Air Force engineer who has volunteered for Weston Hospicecare for 26 years has retired.

Syd Brailey, aged 90, became involved with the hospice after staff helped to care for his wife before she died.

Over the past 26 years he has repaired wheelchairs, driven people to the inpatient unit and been a voluntary companion for more than 50 patients.

He said: "When my wife was ill a nurse from the hospice came to see her and she was a great comfort.

"A year after my wife died I retired from work and presented myself to the hospice and became a volunteer.

"To start with, I remember taking collection boxes along to all the hotels on the seafront and collected them to take the money to the bank.

"I used to repair wheelchairs and take beds out to people.

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"The hospice had a day care unit before an inpatient unit so I would also go out to pick patients up and bring them in by 10am and then at 4pm we'd arrive again to take them home.

"I then became a volunteer companion and went to sit with patients and their families in their own homes."

The daughter of one patient Syd visited was so grateful for the companionship he offered her dad she invited him to her wedding.

The RAF veteran looked after more than 50 patients as a voluntary companion.

He also insisted on paying for petrol when driving people to and from the hospice.

He said: "I didn't like to claim mileage but on one occasion I was told to claim my outstanding mileage which came to more than £300.

"In those days you could gift aid amounts over £300 so with the money I received with gift aid, I donated it back to the hospice."

The hospice's director of patient services, John Bailey, praised Syd's admirable service to the charity.

He said: "He (Syd) has been here the whole time I have worked at the hospice and when I worked as a nurse in the community Syd visited the same patient as I did as a volunteer sitter.

"When I visited, the wife said when Syd was there it allowed her to go out, but on her return he had done all the ironing and had made a meal, the wife said she had never been shown so much love from the outside the family.

"This is the nature of the man and we will miss him volunteering for us."