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Posted on Sep 6 2021 by Fiona Bailey

Three volunteers who have been recognised by St Andrew’s for their hard work have clocked up 102 years’ service between them.

Christopher Yates, who has completed 14 years of service, was presented with the prestigious Anne Ford Award for his dedication throughout the pandemic. He was the first person to volunteer his services when COVID-19 first hit the UK and he was continued supporting the charity since then.

Roger Brewer and Anne Ford, who have completed 36 years and 52 years respectively, were also recognised for their hard work at the charity’s inaugural FestiVol event.

Much of Christopher’s work at St Andrew’s involves his three dogs as he is a Pets as Therapy (PATdog) volunteer. Using people’s pets has been shown to be hugely beneficial to patients as it has been proven that animals bring joy, comfort and companionship to those who need it most.

Christopher said: “When I first started I took the dogs onto Lowther Ward, which at the time was where all the young people were. At first the boys gave me a bit of jip, but within the 10 minutes they were sat on the sofa cuddling the dogs.”

When asked what he got out of volunteering, he said: “This might sound daft, but the biggest thing is seeing the patients smile when I walk onto the wards.”

The Anne Ford award was created to recognise Anne’s 50 years of service which was presented to her two years ago. She is still volunteering and working hard for the charity, which is why she picked up further recognition on Friday at the event.

Anne began her St Andrew’s journey as a child because her mother was a Governor of the charity.

She said: “I spent a lot of time here as a child, so volunteering became the natural thing to do when I became old enough to do it.”

Anne has fulfilled many different roles and laughs that she is “happy to do anything I’m asked”.

When asked why she has dedicated so much of her time to the Northampton hospital, she insisted it is a “huge privilege to spend time with the patients, staff and other volunteers”.

Roger, who splits his volunteering time between his chaplaincy work and befriending patients, had some advice for anyone who is considering donating their time to St Andrew’s.

“I always find a smile goes a long way when first meeting patients because it’s universal. Everyone understands a smile don’t they?”

He added: “I think a smile and your time is the greatest gift you can give anyone. I have met some incredible people during my time here and I’m just only too happy to help.”

Dawn Wright, the Voluntary Services Manager, said: “Who would have thought that between the three of them they have managed to clock up 102 hours of service between them? We’re hugely honoured to have such dedicated and caring people as Roger, Christopher and Anne work with us and the way they talk about the patients is truly humbling.

“The time and commitment all our volunteers give to us is hugely appreciated and I would like to thank each and every one of them for their hard work. For anyone who is considering signing up, please do. Any time, even if it’s just an hour a month is appreciated and I’m told from all our volunteering team that it’s thoroughly worthwhile.”

The FestiVol took place on the grounds of St Andrew’s in a bid to encourage and recruit more volunteers for the charity. Attendees were treated to local foods and live music while learning more about the volunteering opportunities available.

For more information on volunteering, click here​​​​​​​