A SURPRISE party gave a fitting send-off to a long-serving volunteer at St Cross Hospital.
John Lynch, 92, has been helping to make a difference with the Friends of St Cross charity for over a decade.
When the veteran volunteer announced his retirement following a bout of poor health, Clinical Theatre Sister Melanie Speed enlisted day surgery theatres, ward staff and fellow volunteers to hold a surprise party to thank him for his loyal service.
John first started volunteering in 2008 shortly after his wife passed away.
When he offered to come into the hospital on Christmas Day to help feed patients, little did he know this would be the beginning of the Mealtime Companion service which is now provided by the charity.
Friends of St Cross chairman Willy Goldschmidt said: “John has been an inspiration to so many by helping to establish the services in which he volunteers.
“John asked what he could to help and was asked to come in and help with patient feeding. This was a success, and the Mealtime Companion service evolved from there.”
John later joined the group of volunteers who hold the hands of patients undergoing cataract operations at St Cross.
Willy continued: “One thing he did not know is that on two occasions he held the hand of a patient who has since become a volunteer in the theatre, and is considering becoming a trustee of the Friends as she wants to give back to the hospital that has helped her a great deal in recent years.”
Willy said the most rewarding aspect of volunteering for John was the social aspect of teaming up with staff and other volunteers, as well as the service for the patients.
“There is a great connection between the hospital staff and the volunteers which makes ‘giving back’ a real pleasure,” said Willy.
At the leaving party, Willy presented John with a certificate thanking him for his ten years of service, and Melanie gave him a collage of photographs of him and the team in theatre.
She said: “John has been a much-loved integral member of the team ever since he joined us.
“Having volunteers reassure patients prior to and during cataract procedures makes a real difference to the patient experience, as many of them have undergone the procedure or witnessed it on many occasions and so can offer a non-clinical personal touch.”
John thanked all who came to the party and said: “Volunteering has been a great part of my life for these last 10 years and I will miss it.”
Willy added: “We will all miss him too!”