A group of volunteers who have collectively donated 160 years to a local charity are being acknowledged for their dedication.
Each year, Havens Hospices holds its ‘Long Service Awards’ for those volunteers who have been with the organisation for five, 10, 15, 20, 25 years and beyond. Usually held during the evening at Saxon Hall in Southend, the presentation takes place with refreshments, entertainment and speeches.
Due to Covid, the charity is unable to do this so it’s sending handwritten cards, pin badges and certificates to the 96 volunteers who have reached their ‘Long Service’ milestone this year.
One of those is Bob Harvey, who has been volunteering at the charity for 20 years.
Bob had already retired in 1992 from BT after 33 years dealing with large international banks. After setting his own company in the City working with a merchant bank, he retired for a second time and joined Havens Hospices. His wife, Margaret, had joined back in 1993.
The 78 old from Southend says, “Margaret’s father was so ably supported by Fair Havens. Although he was only in for 36 hours at the end of his life, we were all so impressed by the holistic way the situation was managed and included our whole family.
“When I started volunteering in Finance, I was responsible – along with Margaret and others – in counting coins on the coin counting machine. But I quickly realised that foreign coins and banknotes were being donated after the Euro had taken over the respective different currencies which had hitherto existed.
“I asked what happened to the coins and banknotes and was advised that “some nice man gave us £50 a year. I said “If I cannot manage more than £50 a year I would donated £50 a year”.
Bob used to buy Euros and Swiss Francs at the ‘interbank rate.’ He would also take the donated coins to Europe – usually Madeira but also France and Majorca – and exchange them at the local restaurants who have to pay banks a commission for small change, so that helped them too.
To date, Bob has managed to convert donated foreign currency to the tune of more than £30,000 for Havens Hospices. Through his Masonic Membership, Bob was also instrumental in securing through the Masonic Mark Benevolent Fund more than £93,000 to purchase the specialist beds, which are now being used in the new Fair Havens In Patient Unit.
His volunteering continued during lockdown too, from home. “I sell coins and banknotes on eBay. Between March and October I managed to raise around £267, so thankfully this revenue stream is still functioning.”
On getting his 20 Year Long Service Award from Havens Hospices, Bob says, “When I retired I was determined to volunteer for the same reason as my wife and between us we have been volunteers for 47 years. Hopefully this award of 20 years’ service will also inspire others to volunteer, thereby like Havens Hospices’ Vision of ‘Making every day count.’”
Havens Hospices has more than 1,000 volunteers across the organisation, saving the charity around £2 million each year. Around half of these work in its 23 charity shops. Due to the pandemic, the majority of these duties have been put on hold until it’s safe to return to the hospices, shops or in the community.
To find out more about volunteering opportunities at Havens Hospices, visit www.havenshospices.org.uk/volunteering
Published 25th November 2020