Eleven years ago, 82 year-old Sheila Brown, from Bury St Edmunds, started volunteering for EACH. Sheila retired from nursing in 1956 and spent over 25 years volunteering for the local adult hospice. However, she has always been passionate about children, surrounding herself with two sons, two daughters and later five grandsons, so she soon turned to EACH to offer her help.
Sheila said: “When I was a nurse, before children’s hospices existed, I remember nursing a seven-year-old boy at the end of his life. He was an only child and I had nothing I could offer to his parents except for them to return later to collect his death certificate. As I watched them walk away I thought to myself that there must be something more that could be done to support parents, they looked so lost. I knew that as soon as the opportunity arose to help a children’s hospice, I would offer my services.”
Originally Sheila offered to help with providing care but as it wasn’t an option at the time, she turned her hand to fundraising instead and EACH has definitely kept her busy.
Sheila, who doesn’t drive was ably supported by her husband Ron who travelled many miles throughout the region so that Sheila could continue her volunteering. Sadly, Ron died 18 months ago but this hasn’t stopped Sheila from getting involved wherever she can, with her grandsons providing a taxi service!
Sheila is a volunteer speaker for EACH, she also networks locally raising awareness, helps at events, looks after a number of collection pots and attends cheque presentations. Over the years she has contributed to raising hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Four years ago, Sheila decided that she wanted to do a skydive for the charity. She had agreement from her GP but unfortunately on the day the parachute company told Sheila she couldn’t jump due to health reasons. Sheila’s family were undeterred and her five grandsons and one son stepped in, and offered to return on another day and jump in her place. Sheila’s supporters still donated their sponsorship, raising over £800.
Months later, the family returned to the airfield and her family unveiled their t-shirts reading ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’ and they all jumped out of a plane in her honour.
Sheila enjoys her volunteering immensely and it has given her new experiences and memories. Sheila fondly remembers a visit to a local primary school: “I was asked to attend the school for their day of fundraising. I got involved with different lessons including drawing, baking and football. The children who were my minders for the day nominated me as the reserve goalkeeper but luckily I wasn’t needed. At lunchtime I was served a liquid dinner of soup, mashed potato and gravy and then custard for dessert. It transpired that the children were concerned I didn’t have any teeth so they amended some of the menu for me especially!
“I have met some wonderful people volunteering for EACH. I have made friends with some other volunteers and I love visiting the hospice and seeing how much children’s palliative care has advanced since I was a nurse. The support EACH provides, especially after a bereavement is outstanding and I am proud to be involved, here’s to the next eleven years!”