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Volunteering Is a Family Thing – Saint Francis Hospice Story

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From abseils and quiz nights to mud runs and canoe races the Burke family has been an ardent supporter of Saint Francis Hospice for many years. They’ve always lived by the motto, don’t wait until you need it.

‘People would ask us why Saint Francis Hospice is our chosen charity,’ said Andrea, mum of Henry and Robson. ‘I’d always say that if you live in the community, you will probably know someone who needs the Hospice’s care at some point.’

It turned out that Andrea did end up knowing someone who needed the Hospice’s care, her dad, David. Andrea cites the care the Hospice at Home team provided for him after a cancer diagnosis as invaluable. ‘Dad could pass away at home, which was what he wanted,’ Andrea explained.

Since the breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic, the whole family has been volunteering at the Hospice in Havering-atte-Bower. Robson, who was only eight years old when he abseiled down the YMCA building in Romford, is now studying electrical installation at Havering College.

He had been shadowing the maintenance man and brushing up his knowledge before the two-metre social distancing rule was enforced. ‘I expected the Hospice to be all doom and gloom,’ he admitted. ‘But it’s the complete opposite. The Hospice blew me away; it’s an incredible place. I knew that I had to help in some other way.’

Since then, he’s been keeping the gardens well kept alongside his 21-year-old brother, Henry, and their dad, Ged. Andrea has been busy with the laundry and delivering patients’ meals on our ward. ‘When you give a patient your time, you can see how happy it makes them,’ Andrea revealed. ‘Those conversations can mean so much.’

Andrea’s employer, DHL, is also kindly matching the funds she raises, as well as the money she saves Saint Francis Hospice through volunteering. If going backwards down a 37-metre tall building doesn’t quite sound like your idea of fun, but you’d still like to help Saint Francis Hospice through the pandemic, then you can do so by supporting the urgent appeal. You can find out more here.

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