Meet the selfless heroes stepping up to help our NHS
Many of us have felt a lump in the throat as we consider the bravery and sacrifice of doctors, nurses, porters and hospital cleaners as they face the coronavirus pandemic.
But there is another quiet army of selfless heroes who have stepped up to help – with no reward other than knowing they have helped make a difference.
When the coronavirus outbreak began the government put out a call for volunteers to join the NHS.
Thousands responded – people wanting to do what they can in the face of an unprecedented crisis.
It is no different at the trust which manages Princess Royal Hospital (PRH) in Telford and Royal Shrewsbury Hospital (RSH), where scores of volunteers have given up their time to help hold the line against the coronavirus pandemic.
There are countless more but the Shropshire Star today shares the efforts of seven volunteers at the Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust who stepped up when it matters.
Brian Finch runs a construction business in Market Drayton, but because he is currently unable to work he volunteered as a porter at RSH.
For the past four weeks the 58-year-old from Cold Hatton has been carrying out vital tasks, such as transporting patients and moving blood samples.
He said: “It is very different to what I am used to but I am really enjoying it. There is a lot of walking involved, which is keeping me fit, and everyone I have met has been great.
“Everyone is rightly focusing on the on the medical staff during the coronavirus pandemic, but the porters do a magnificent job. The hospitals wouldn’t function without them and it is a privilege to be part of their team at the moment.”
Brian, whose wife is a retired nurse, says he is open to continuing his volunteering work once normal life resumes.
Meg Reidy recently graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University and has also spent the past month volunteering at RSH.
She said: “It has been a really busy start to what I hope will be a long career in the NHS as a dietician having recently graduated with a nutrition degree. It is great that I can take a bit of pressure off the NHS and do something for the community.”
The 22-year-old, from Church Stretton added: “I am volunteering in the Radiotherapy Department at the moment and it has been fascinating. I am essentially doing any jobs that help speed up processes and ensure a better experience for patients.”
Mike and Shirley Sheehy spend up to four days a week delivering medicines to cancer patients across Shropshire.
Having moved back to Shrewsbury from Cyprus in 2015, the married couple of 49 years started volunteering at RSH about two months ago, and are “absolutely loving it.”
Mike, 69, who spent 22 years in the RAF, said: “We travel all over the county delivering medicines to cancer patients who aren’t able to come into hospital at the moment. It is an incredibly rewarding job that we are both really enjoying.”
Shirley, 68, added: “We have met some amazing people along the way. Everyone is working so hard in very challenging circumstances, but what is obviously apparent is how much everyone at the hospital trust really appreciate their army of volunteers.”
When not volunteering Mike and Shirley can be seen using their daily exercise time jogging along the streets of Shrewsbury or exercising at home with online videos provided by their local gym.
Matthew Hartill was teaching English in Austria when it was announced the county was entering lockdown.
The 22-year-old from Much Wenlock, who is studying Languages at Sheffield University, is now volunteering in the Estates Department at PRH.
He said: “It is a really difficult time for people and I just want to play my part.
“It is not how I envisaged spending my summer but I am really enjoying my time at the hospital. I do the morning shift, four-days-a-week, and have met some great people.
“My role differs every day. I am working at the front of house so one moment I could be making staff ID badges and the next I could be liaising with a contractor. It doesn’t really matter what the job is though as long as I am helping.”
For Lisa Morgan, volunteering has been a trip down memory lane having worked at SaTH in the 1990s as a Healthcare Assistant.
“I’d forgotten how many miles you walk in a day,” joked the 54-year-old from Clive, near Shrewsbury, “but I must admit it, I have really enjoyed being back.
“I spend every Thursday in the Therapies Department where I load up the dietician orders for the week. When the orders come in for specialist food and drink items it is my job to gather them from the store room and ensure they are delivered to the right departments.
“I have only been doing it for a few weeks but I am really enjoying myself. It helps being fairly familiar with my surroundings but a lot has changed since I used to work here.”
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic Lisa was volunteering at the British Heart Foundation furniture store in Shrewsbury, but when it had to close she decided she wanted to return to the NHS.
She said: “I had time on my hands and wanted to put it to good use. Our NHS staff are doing a fabulous job and I am pleased to be playing my part to help.”
Medicine student Charlie Harpin has signed up to be a mask fit tester at SaTH.
The 18-year-old from Shrewsbury would normally be preparing for his end of year exams at Manchester University, but when it closed due to the coronavirus pandemic he felt he had time on his hands which could be used to help people.
He said: “I wanted something to do in these uncertain times to get me out of the house and do some good.
“I have been given all my training to fit protective masks and am now desperately looking forward to my first shift. I just want to get on and help us much as possible.
“It’s incredible how many people have signed up. It just goes to show that when push comes to shove people do want to help.”
Charlie, who has been keeping in touch with family and friends online during the lockdown period, also applied to join the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital as a Healthcare Assistant and is expected to start work in mid-May.