“The training that is available and the investment they make in you as a volunteer is amazing.”

At just 17-years-old, Rhys Thornett is one of the youngest volunteers at St Giles – but that doesn’t mean he’s treated as a junior. “I’m just one of the team,” he said. “Everyone is so friendly and inclusive, and I’ve learned so much in such a short space of time.”

Rhys is currently studying for his A levels and is hoping to go on to university to study medicine. “I’ve been lucky enough to get some work experience in an A&E Department in a hospital, but I thought that St Giles would give me a very different perspective on healthcare,” he added.

“I live in the Lichfield area and so I was aware of the hospice, but I wasn’t sure if there would be any opportunities for someone of my age to volunteer there.

“I looked on the St Giles website and saw that they were holding an open evening, so I took myself along. I was only 16 at the time but they were more than happy to chat about what I would like to do and to find a role for me.

“There are so many roles to choose from, from gardening, fundraising, transport and logistics to complementary therapy and nursing.”

Rhys was asked if he’d like to volunteer on reception. “At first I thought it didn’t sound like a particularly big role but I have been proved wrong,” he said.

“The reception area at St Giles is actually a lynchpin connecting visitors, patients, healthcare workers, deliveries and staff. I meet so many different people and deal with a lot of different situations – and emotions. I get a fantastic insight into hospice life from the reception, and that’s definitely not something everyone at my age gets the opportunity to experience.”

“Last year I was lucky enough to attend the St Giles Summer School, where 20-30 students are invited in over three days to see how the hospice works. We had talks and discussions with members of the senior nursing team and were able to understand more fully the importance of end-of-life care. If anything, this inspired me even more to follow a career in healthcare.

“If anyone else reading this is considering a career in healthcare, then I would definitely encourage them to find out more about volunteering at St Giles. The training that is available and the investment they make in you as a volunteer is amazing.”

If you’ve been inspired by Rhys’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 volunteer@stgileshospice.com.