Volunteers at Keech Hospice Care in Luton are being honoured with the highest accolade a voluntary group can receive in the UK. 

Announced during Volunteers’ Week, the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service recognises outstanding work by volunteer groups which benefits their communities. 

Liz Searle, CEO of Keech Hospice Care, the adult hospice for Luton and south Bedfordshire and the children’s hospice for Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Milton Keynes, said she’s delighted the charity’s volunteers and their dedication have been recognised.

“Without our 1,475 volunteers, we simply wouldn’t be here,” said Liz. “They’re the backbone of Keech Hospice Care and always go above and beyond. This award is a fantastic tribute to all their hard work and commitment, without which we would struggle to deliver services.

“From 13 years old to 90 years young, our wonderful volunteers fulfill 111 different roles and bring multiple skills which – as a charity - we simply could not afford. From ensuring our 34 shops can remain open and lifeguarding so patients can use our hydrotherapy pool to catering, fundraising, voice banking and bereavement – the list is endless. For nearly 30 years, our volunteers have made Keech Hospice Care what it is today. I’m delighted their continuous dedication is being recognised because it enables the charity to provide its exceptional specialist care to children and adults, and their families, at a time it’s needed the most,” Liz said.

Thanks to its volunteers, the hospice, based in Luton, cared for 2,400 adults and children (over 1,600 patients and 700 relatives) in 2018/19 alone.

 

Helen Nellis, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, delivered the news on Keech Hospice Care’s social media channels and website.

“I am thrilled the volunteers of Keech Hospice Care have been awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. We are so fortunate in Bedfordshire to have this wonderful hospice providing free specialist care for adults and children with life-limiting illnesses, and the contribution from its volunteers is tremendous. I send my sincere congratulations to everyone at Keech Hospice Care and I look forward to the time when I can visit the hospice in person and present the award on behalf of HM The Queen,” HM Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire said. 

 

Louise Coleman became a volunteer for Keech Hospice Care after the charity cared for her son. She said it’s all about giving back and feeling valued.

“I’m delighted we’ve received this prestigious award, but I’ve got so much out of volunteering for Keech Hospice Care. I started as a fundraising volunteer for Keech after the charity cared for my son Sam - it was my way of giving back. The care Sam and the whole family received was just incredible. Sam died when he was just 19 years old from Duchenne muscular dystrophy and since then I’ve raised £34,000. You’re part of a fantastic family when you volunteer for Keech – it truly is a wonderful charity. There are many volunteering opportunities out there but, whatever time you can give, I’d encourage everyone to volunteer for Keech – it’s not a sad place at all. There really is a role to suit everyone, you feel so valued and you know you are making the difference when it matters the most.” 

 

At 16 years old, Fabia Chowdhury, is one of Keech Hospice Care’s youngest volunteers.

“To get this award is brilliant and a total surprise,” said Fabia. “I did work experience at one of Keech Hospice Care’s charity shops two years ago and I loved it so much, I’ve volunteered at the weekends ever since. I feel part of a family and the people I work with are amazing! People think volunteering is just for older people but it’s not. The skills I’m learning look great on my CV and will help me to get my first job in the future. I feel part of my community and I’m becoming more confident. If anyone is thinking about volunteering, I highly recommend for all ages it as it’s really fun and no two days are ever the same.”

Volunteers from Keech Hospice Care will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace next year on behalf of the charity, along with other recipients of this year’s Queen’s Award. 

To join Keech Hospice Care’s family of volunteers, whatever time you have to offer, please visit www.keech.org.uk/volunteer or call 01582 492339. Full training is provided. 

 

For interviews, please contact Lorna Chinnock, Head of Marketing and Communications, Keech Hospice Care, on 01582 497874 / 07824606856 or lchinnock@keech.org.uk.