“The washing up will give me up, I’ll never give it up. It’s part of my life now.”
After 33 years of washing up at St Giles, Biddy Brough, aged 75, could certainly tell some stories about life at St Giles Hospice.
In fact, she finds volunteering so rewarding that – come rain or shine – you’ll find her at the hospice every Monday night in her marigolds, putting the world to rights with her long-serving washing up partner, Amanda Bingham.
“Just like me, Amanda has taken the role on for life,” said Biddy. “The washing up will give me up, I’ll never give it up. It’s part of my life now.”
She added: “I look forward to coming to the hospice and while it’s only an hour and a half of my time each week, I find it really rewarding.
“People think that the hospice might be frightening or upsetting, but there’s such a sense of camaraderie here and such an appreciation for what you do that I find it very uplifting.”
Biddy explained that her mum’s cousin was one of the very first patients to be cared for at St Giles back in 1984. “My mum was so grateful for the care given by St Giles that she said to me that we must give something back.
“Her words stuck with me so, as soon as I was able to, I offered to volunteer. In the early days I started on reception and then they moved me to the kitchen, where I’ve been volunteering ever since.”
Over the years it’s hard to picture just how many dishes Biddy has washed up. She says the time tends to fly while chatting away with her washing up buddy, Amanda.
One Christmas Eve a few years ago she was asked if she could step in as the team who were due to work the shift were ill – and did not realise that it was the day of the staff Christmas lunch. “I was invited along to a lovely lunch afterwards and had a little drink myself,” she added.
Over the years Biddy has sadly experienced friends, including one of her long-serving washing up buddies, dying at the hospice. But she said that the wonderful care they all received means that giving the few hours she volunteers a week is so worthwhile to help such an amazing place.
If you’ve been inspired by Biddy’s story and would like to know more about volunteering at St Giles, you can book onto a volunteer open session here. Plus, you can reach the team on 01543 434546 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.