“For the sense of purpose volunteering has given me, I give St Giles my heartfelt thanks.”

Volunteering at St Giles has quite literally been like a breath of fresh air for Tony Glover, who took early retirement in 2007 and now volunteers as a gardener – among other things!

“It was great having some time for myself at first, but then I started to feel as though I needed something else in my life to give me some purpose and to keep me busy,” he said.

“I knew of St Giles as a lot of my friends and the people around me donate and fundraise for the hospice, so I thought that I’d go along to one of their volunteer open days. That was 13 years ago!

“I couldn’t get over it when I started volunteering – it wasn’t anything like going to work. No-one was looking over your shoulder checking whether you’d done stuff, there were no deadlines, no disapproving looks if you stopped and had a chat with someone – in fact chatting is encouraged. It was just such a breath of fresh air, quite literally.

“Being in the gardens is so peaceful and I get a wonderful sense of achievement from seeing the impact they have on patients, visitors and the staff here. It’s so rewarding to hear people comment on how lovely the gardens are and how they brighten their day.”

As well as taking care of the gardens once a week at St Giles, Tony has also volunteered in other roles over the years, from marshalling at fundraising events to collecting St Giles donation tins… with a little help from his wife!

He said: “We like doing this as the collection tins are often in a nice country pub, so it’s a good excuse to build in a lunch stop en-route!”

Tony has no hesitation in encouraging others to get involved. “Everyone is so welcoming and friendly,” he added. “I wasn’t a very confident person before, but now I’ll have a chat with anybody. For that – and for the sense of purpose volunteering has given me – I give St Giles my heartfelt thanks.”

If you’ve been inspired by Tony’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.