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Ashgate Hospice > Long-serving Ashgate Hospice volunteer set for last shift after more than 30 years

One of Ashgate Hospice’s longest-serving volunteers is getting set to step down from his role after more than 30 years of helping care for patients. 

Paul Cocker started volunteering at the hospice’s Inpatient Unit in Old Brampton, Chesterfield, in 1993 to help him get over the death of his father. 

The 72-year-old’s shift on the 25 February will be his last at the hospice, three decades after he first started as a volunteer.  

Paul, a former glassworker, from Chesterfield, said volunteering for the hospice had “changed his life in so many different ways”. 

“It’s been a journey,” said Paul. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it! I’ve loved this chapter in my life. I think it will be very emotional when I leave but everything must have an end, and now is the right time for me. 

“After I reached 30 years, I started to ask myself ‘how much longer can I keep doing this?’ I’d be approaching 31 years in April and I’m not sure I could manage another nine years to reach the 40-year milestone with my arthritis! 

“It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but I think in the book of my life it’s the right thing to do to make an end to this chapter.” 

Paul was acknowledged for his long-service last year

“I must thank my wife Joan, who is my soulmate – her enthusiasm has kept me going all these years. Joan went quiet when I asked if I was doing the right thing. She was gobsmacked!”  

Paul, who is one of more than 800 people who volunteer at the hospice, visits Ashgate every other Sunday to help the Inpatient Unit team care for patients. 

He has also become synonymous with the festive season at Old Brampton, having given up numerous Christmas Days to entertain patients in his Santa hat, elf apron and singing antlers. 

Paul puts his 30 years of volunteering down to “being part of a special team” – one which he says he feels lucky to have volunteered alongside. 

“When I thought I knew what life was all about, well I didn’t until I started working at the hospice,” added Paul.  

“Your outlook on your life expectancy and what you drive for; what you’ve got to have and what you need – that all changes. 

“I’m so grateful to the hospice for all it’s done for me. The training I had when I first started helped me later on in my life to look after my mum for longer than I would’ve been able to.  

“Everywhere I go I tell people about the hospice. I always tell people if they’ve not experienced it themselves, they don’t know what a wonderful place it is.  

“The staff and volunteers are just wonderful and the friends I’ve made over the years are just genuine and down-to-earth people. I’m lucky to have worked with them.” 

Paul loves helping out at Christmas

Putting a smile on patients’ faces is what makes volunteering worthwhile for Paul, who says he does everything he can to “lift people’s spirits”.  

He has urged anyone considering volunteering at the hospice to register their interest with the hospice’s volunteer support team. 

Paul said: “I’ve loved it because you can empathise with people and really get an understanding of the journey they’ve been through. It’s like an emotional rollercoaster at times. 

“I’ve met all kinds of people, from all walks of life. There’s been people with lots and lots of money, and others who have nothing, but I’ll treat everyone the same. 

“If I can go up into people’s rooms on the Inpatient Unit and lift their spirits then that’s all that matters. 

“I can’t recommend volunteering at the hospice enough and popping in to ask if I could help out back in 1993 is one of the best decisions I ever made.”  

Anyone interested in volunteering at Ashgate Hospice can find more about the roles available on the hospice’s website.