Heart Awards celebrate hospice volunteers

On Wednesday 5 July, St Barnabas House and Chestnut Tree House held a special event – the Volunteer Heart Awards – at the Charmandean Centre in Worthing to celebrate the contribution of volunteers and to thank them for their role in supporting local hospice care. Our Vice President, Sally Gunnell OBE attended to present the awards, which were given to three individuals who have gone above and beyond in their support.

Every year, we depend on hundreds of volunteers, who support the hospices in various ways – from retail to fundraising, gardening to office support, as well as helping patients directly through schemes like Community Companions and volunteer lifeguards. During 2022/23, an incredible 1,300 volunteers contributed a total of 80,000 hours, saving the hospices more than £1.3m.

Explaining the importance of volunteers to St Barnabas Hospices, Wendy Bardsley, Head of Voluntary Services said: “There is no greater gift someone can give to another person than time. Every day we have is precious and that so many volunteers choose to donate their time to help others through our volunteering opportunities is something that we cherish at the hospices.”

Over 100 nominations were received from volunteers and staff for the inaugural Volunteer Heart Awards, which were split into three categories, reflecting the hospices’ values – Caring, Connected, Courageous. The three top nominees were announced on the night.

  • The Caring Heart Award was presented to Stuart Upperton, whose paintings and murals are one of the first things people notice when they enter Chestnut Tree House. For 20 years, Stuart has donated his time and talent, with artwork ranging from underwater scenes to Marvel superheroes. Most recently, he painted a beautiful woodland scene which decorates our Stars bereavement suite.
  • The Connected Heart Award was won by Maggie Zarins, who has led the St Barnabas Northbrook Friends Group for over a decade, helping to raise over £120,000. Described in nominations as ‘caring’, ‘passionate’ and ‘a superstar’, Maggie always goes the extra mile for St Barnabas – listening and supporting people around her, motivating the group, making fundraising events bigger and better, and encouraging others to support the hospice.
  • The winner of the Courageous Heart Award was Mark Ward for his many years volunteering as a photographer at our events. His images capture the magic of events and are used to help promote future activities as well as giving something back to participants. Often the first to arrive and one of the last to leave, Mark always goes above and beyond and is a valuable member of the team. As well as volunteering behind a camera, Mark also supports in other ways, not least being a regular at the Littlehampton 10k, often running in fancy dress!

The awards event was attended by around 150 people, and included speeches by our Deputy CEO, Becki Jupp, and Chestnut Tree House parent, Ed Butler, who explained what the children’s hospice means to his son Archie and the whole family. Local resident, Olympic Gold medallist, Sally Gunnell presented Stuart, Maggie and Mark with their awards, and also spoke about what it means to her to volunteer for the hospices in her role as Vice President. The event closed with a performance by the hospices’ community choir, Hospice Harmony.

Wendy Bardsley said: “We were overwhelmed by all the wonderful, big-hearted people that were nominated and it was very difficult to narrow it down to three top nominees. I hope that every volunteer knows how much we value their commitment to the work we do together, helping people every day.

“As well as thanking our volunteers for their ongoing support, the event was also an opportunity to showcase upcoming volunteer opportunities and show the different ways people can get involved – from our Art Trail coming to Chichester and Arundel next year to events and fundraising activities.

“On behalf of everyone at St Barnabas Hospices, I would like say a huge thank you every one of our volunteers for all that they do for the charity and helping to make local hospice care possible.”

A group of volunteers at the Heart awards

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