AS we celebrate our 50th birthday, there is one person who can claim the honour of being with us right from the start.
Helen Bacon’s father was one of our very first patients back when we first opened in the autumn of 1971.
And in just the few days her father was at the new pioneering centre for end of life care, Helen saw how important St Luke’s would be for the people of Sheffield and decided she wanted to be involved.
“He was there just a few days and I was so impressed with the care he received and I thought I would like to give something back, perhaps just for six months or so but that six months passed and then another and here we are 50 years later,” Helen says.
Throughout her 50 years of service, Helen has volunteered in many different areas, starting with on the ward kitchen, serving drinks and meals to patients.
Over the five decades since then, she has been a volunteer in physiotherapy, occupational therapy and fundraising.
She has played the organ in the hospice chapel, been a member of the St Luke’s sewing group and made birthday cakes for patients.
For the past 30 years she has been a volunteering regular at our Abbeydale Road shop, where she is still to be found serving customers every other Saturday.
“Right from the beginning I enjoyed being in the ward kitchen, meeting the people there and getting to know them,” she says.
“A lot of things have changed in that time of course and I think anybody walking in 50 years ago who came in today wouldn’t believe it is the same building but it is still as wonderful a place as it ever was.
“Volunteering at Abbeydale Road means I meet so many people and help raise funds for St Luke’s, which is so important.”
And after 50 years of service, Helen has a message for anybody who might be thinking of following her lead.
“I’d say don’t give it a thought, just come along and try it and once you’ve tried it you’ll never give it up,” she insists.
You’ll have a wonderful experience meeting some lovely people and doing a lot of good.
“I have no intention of stopping being part of St Luke’s - I always say they’ll have to carry me out!”