Judy’s story

Judy Hersee – volunteer

I’ve been equipment monitor at Dorothy House since I took early retirement 10 years ago. For one day a week I help the physios and occupational therapists manage the loan of equipment to patients. The equipment ranges from wheelchairs to walking sticks and includes mobility scooters, three-wheel walkers and walking frames. I make sure that everything loaned to a patient is returned and is fit and ready to use again. So that means labelling it, recording its loan and maintaining it ready for the next patient. We use the main IT system and I support it with spreadsheets. We’ve got about 100 wheelchairs – although most of those are out on loan at any one time.

My background is very different. I worked for the Ministry of Defence and spent my working life in IT and accounting. I took early retirement because I wanted to do something completely different. But it was a very busy job, so I didn’t want to relax and sit back. I decided to volunteer and I chose Dorothy House because I was looking for something close to home. I was familiar with Dorothy House because both my parents were treated here. And I wanted to be part of a team. I was used to that in my career and I enjoy it. I love working with people.

I’m involved in the whole department and I’m made to feel part of the team. I love being in a big organisation and I really feel appreciated. Everyone is so welcoming here. And there are lots of young people. As you retire, it’s easy to end up with lots of older people. There’s a big mix here.

A small part of my job is to collect and deliver equipment to patients and the people who care for them in the community. I’d never worked in a health environment before I came to Dorothy House so have had to get used to seeing people who are very unwell. Going to see families that have just lost a loved one certainly gives you a broader outlook on life. In the business world, you don’t get that. This is a caring organisation – they are very different.

I could have stayed in the commercial world – but I wanted a change. I’m also a member of Lions Club International, and I’m chair of the civilian committee of the local Air Cadets. I still have a working week mentality – working all hours from Monday to Friday and then enjoying the weekend. My parents were the same.

I enjoy dispelling the myth that working in a hospice is dreary and sad. It’s a very happy, positive organisation. People don’t change when they’re very ill. However poorly they are, they have the same personality. If they broke their leg, you’d have a joke or a chat with them, so why would that be different if they have a serious illness?

I’m happy volunteering one day a week. I also love travel, gardening, line dancing, walking and anything to do with keeping fit. It’s a job fitting it all in. I haven’t spent a day sitting in the lounge since I retired.