Dawn Myles (56) joined the hospice as a volunteer hairdresser just over two years ago but soon found that she could help in other ways too. 

“I sold my hairdressing business and found that I had time on my hands. I’m not of retirement age and wanted to keep busy and have a structure to my week. Martlets had cared for my husband, so I thought that this would be a way that I could do something that would help them in return. 

I started off by offering my services as a hairdresser, but on the times when it was a bit quiet, I began helping our masseur Keith. He’s blind, so I support him by setting up the room for him, selecting the music and getting the patients ready. We’ve built up a good rapport over the two years that we’ve been working together; he’s a real inspiration and such a positive person.

On another afternoon each week, I work with the ward clerk on the In-Patient Unit; taking a bit of pressure off her.  It’s a varied role, incredibly busy and is different every day. I answer the phones, look after visitors and help with the admin.  

More recently, I trained as a bereavement support volunteer and now visit people in their homes. I’m not a trained counsellor, my role is to be there as someone for people to talk to; an ear to listen. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to offer to people; someone to chat to if you are feeling down. 

I’ve met many interesting people at Martlets and learnt so much from them. I also joined the Martlets choir, which has been fun, and have made some great new friends.   

I like the way that Martlets makes you feel so valued and an essential part of the team; I get a lot out of that.  There have been times that have taken me out of my comfort zone, in a positive way, but I do like a challenge.

The more I volunteer, the more I want to give something back. I think it’s nice to be a part of an organisation that’s so forward thinking and important to the local community.”