Derek Kemp from Folkestone chose to volunteer for Pilgrims Hospices after his wife, Jean, was cared for at the Canterbury hospice. Here, he shares what he loves about volunteering for Pilgrims and why he’s motivated to support his local hospice charity.
Jean spent the last five weeks of her life in Pilgrims Hospice Canterbury during January and February 2016.
Derek said: “At the time, she actually asked me how much this was all going to cost, to which I replied that was the least of her worries! The care she received and the wonderful consideration given to the whole family at this difficult time is something that will always remain with me. It was an amazing experience.
“I felt that I wanted to give something back. Being recently retired, I decided that I’d like to help in any way I could with fundraising for Pilgrims. Our son, Martin, organised a Grand Charity Ball at the Ashford International Hotel for family and friends in January 2016 for Jean’s 60th birthday. Sadly, Jean couldn’t attend as she was in the hospice, but it was a huge success and raised more than £6,000 for both Pilgrims Hospices and Cancer Research UK.”
What I love most about volunteering at Pilgrims is the variety of everything I get involved with, working with such wonderful people and the satisfaction of raising vital funds for such a worthy cause.
So, after a 38-year career in the insurance industry, Derek became a Pilgrims volunteer. He also enjoys his role as a violinist with the Folkestone Symphony Orchestra, where he is the current Chairman.
He said: “What I love most about volunteering at Pilgrims is the variety of everything I get involved with, working with such wonderful people and the satisfaction of raising vital funds for such a worthy cause. I like fundraising as it’s something I used to do when working in a busy office environment, encouraging staff to support charitable causes.
“I now help to run the Folkestone fundraising group with Ginny Taylor – together, we make a great team! We organise monthly coffee mornings and bingo sessions in the community, as well as managing store collections and the Christmas market in Elham with other volunteers.
“I also volunteer at the larger Pilgrims events where I can usually be seen in a high vis jacket, either marshalling or on car park duties. I recently helped sign the route for Pilgrims Hospices Cycle Challenge, including taking signage down at the end. Oh, and I help out with Tree Recycling!”
Derek’s personal experience of the charity, combined with his volunteering role, has given him a positive insight into local hospice care. He said: “I’ve come to learn that Pilgrims offer so many more valuable services than I’d originally expected. It’s pleasing and encouraging to know that the charity is continuing to explore new ideas, too. Not only will this benefit people preparing for the end of their life, but it will also support families during their own period of need, both before and after bereavement.
“My volunteer role has introduced me to so many new friends since I retired. I enjoy working with these lovely people for the same cause, and the challenge, together with the satisfaction, of raising vital funds for Pilgrims.”
Inspired to become a Pilgrims’ volunteer?
Visit pilgrimshospices.org/volunteer and look out for more stories and information throughout Volunteers’ Week!
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Volunteers’ Week is a chance to say thank you for the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK. It takes place 1-7 June every year and is an opportunity to celebrate volunteering in all its diversity.
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