The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service was presented to the volunteers of Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust by The Lord Lieutenant of Surrey, Dame Sarah Goad, in a ceremony at Painshill Park, Cobham, on Thursday (September 6).
Volunteer Eldon Sandys accepted the award on behalf of all 380 Trust volunteers – with around 150 volunteers attending the ceremony. Other guests included Woking MP Jonathan Lord (who officially supported the original nomination) and civic leaders from the Boroughs of Runnymede, Spelthorne and Elmbridge, Vice-Chairman of Surrey County Council Health Scrutiny Committee, Zully Grant-Duff, Queen’s Award Assessor Jenny Griffiths and Tony Duhig, who nominated the Trust’s volunteers for the award.
Mrs McLeish said that this was a very special award – the MBE for voluntary services - and particularly special in this Diamond Jubilee year. The volunteers should all be very proud of what they had achieved.
“This award is given for outstanding achievement to groups of volunteers who regularly devote their time, skills and energy for the benefit of others, and there is no doubt you tick that box, and some,” she said.
“We often talk about how lucky we are at Ashford and St Peter’s to have such a strong body of volunteers – nearly 400 – working across our two hospitals and in a huge variety of roles. This afternoon’s award, so rightly deserved, underlines just how lucky we truly are. The work you do so generously, and the time you give - to our staff, patients and their families - is hugely appreciated and it’s a real delight to be able to share this honour with you this afternoon.
“Representing such a variety of roles – from portering, helping to feed our patients, guiding and signposting patients and visitors around our hospitals, to working on the wards, in our admin and corporate departments, doing the trolley round, working on Hospital Radio Wey, raising valuable funds for both hospitals and supporting patients and their families via the Chaplaincy team, our volunteers really do get everywhere, in the nicest possible way.
The Lord Lieutenant paid her tribute to all the volunteers for their hard work: "I thank you all for your work and I don’t underestimate how difficult at times it must be to fit it into busy lives, family and other commitments. About a third of you have worked at the hospitals for over 25 years. That is an amazing record and I am delighted that it has been recognized by this prestigious award from The Queen herself.”
Suzanne Rankin, the Trust’s Chief Nurse and Executive Lead for Voluntary Services, added her thanks and congratulations to the volunteer workforce who, she said, did an amazing job and there was no doubt that the hospitals would not be the same without them.
She also thanked Voluntary Services Manager Julie Addison for the developments the service has recently seen – such as the new Volunteer Guides and the support given by volunteer groups such as HeartBeat Woking to patients on the wards. “It’s these kinds of developments that have marked us out,” she explained, “and helped us to be recognised in this way. As the advocate of patient experience at Board level I am hugely passionate about the experience our patients have while they are in our hospitals and there is no doubt that the support you provide makes a real difference, thank you.”
Eldon Sandys, who regularly volunteers as part of the ward trolley team, spoke of how proud he was to receive the award on behalf of all the volunteers. “My Lord Lieutenant” he said, “if I had one wish it would be that you had 380 pairs of hands to give this award personally to each of our volunteers.”
Voluntary Services Manager Julie Addison concludes: “I am thrilled and delighted for our volunteers to receive this prestigious national honour which is undoubtedly well deserved. Ashford and St. Peter's are uniquely fortunate in their ability to attract the dedication of such a committed group of volunteers who commit their time, skills and energy for the benefit of the local community while they are in our care. We are all aware and applaud the success of Team GB and if there was a Gold Medal for volunteering, Ashford and St. Peter's volunteers would be the team to beat. They are the best!”
Following the formalities guests were then invited to take afternoon tea and to enjoy the beautiful setting of the conservatory’s walled garden. Aileen McLeish concluded the afternoon by extending the Trust’s thanks to Painshill Park Trust who had very generously sponsored the event, donating the use of the conservatory to the Trust at no charge.