VOLUNTEER Freda Dunk has good reason for knowing St Luke’s Hospice is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year… she was there right at the start!
And after four decades of giving her time for free Freda, now aged 89, of Nether Edge, is one of the hospice’s longest-serving volunteers.
She has made cups of tea, arranged flowers and helped out at annual summer fairs.
She has served customers in the St Luke’s charity shops in Ecclesall and Abbeydale - and welcomed celebrated guests including Deborah the Duchess of Devonshire, the Duchess of Kent, and even Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
“The Prince and Princess of Wales visited in 1984, and Diana was pregnant with Prince Harry,” Freda recalls.
“The people of Sheffield lined the route to the hospice - and the building was especially clean and shiny that day!”
Freda had gained some experience of nursing during the war and, as she saw the hospice taking shape at Little Common Lane in Whirlow throughout 1970 and 1971, she decided she would like to put her skills to fresh use.
She was there alongside hospice founder Professor Eric Wilkes when the facility opened its doors for the first time with just two patients in October 1971 - and she has been there ever since.
Freda has been witness to all the changes and developments in the St Luke’s story since, and now looks forward to seeing the building of a new in-patient unit.
“The hospice has changed over the years,” she says.
“Now we have 20 beds rather than two, and we also have patients who attend our Therapies and Rehabilitation Centre plus our Community team who look after patients in their own homes.
“I have seen some sad times at the hospice but also many happy ones - and I have always enjoyed seeing patients go home after experiencing the hospice’s expert nursing care.”
n To find out more about volunteering at St Luke’s visit www.stlukeshospice.org.uk or call 0114 235 7594.